Thursday, April 18, 2024

Cridlebaugh hired as new Chelan County economic services director

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WENATCHEE- Chelan County commissioners announce the hiring of Ron Cridlebaugh of Quincy, who will fill a newly created administrator position titled economic services director.

Cridlebaugh currently serves as the director of economic and business development for the Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority. He has served nine years with the port district, first with the Port of Douglas and then the regional port district when it was reorganized in 2019. In his role, Cridlebaugh has led the regional port’s efforts in attracting new businesses to the region.

“The board of commissioners is excited to have Ron join our county team,” said Commissioner Tiffany Gering, chairwoman of the Board of County Commissioners. “We look forward to the role he will play in shaping the economic future of Chelan County.”

Cridlebaugh will begin working in the Commissioner’s Office on April 3. He brings to the county more than 20 years of experience in economic development, personnel and grant management, small business development, strategic planning, and tourism promotion. In his overall career, Cridlebaugh has worked with hundreds of businesses, helping them become more successful.

“I’m looking forward to taking my past experience and knowledge and working with the Board of County Commissioners and staff to make positive changes for the residents of Chelan County and our region,” Cridlebaugh said. “We will be looking at what we can do as a governmental agency to enhance our business environment and attract business to the county. We will also be assessing our county-owned visitor facilities to find ways to give our residents and visitors the best recreational experience we can.”

The economic services director is in a new position at Chelan County and replaces the economic development director position previously held by Blake Baldwin and interim director Sasha Sleiman.

In October 2021, commissioners hired BERK Consulting of Seattle to assess the structure of those appointed offices under the Board of County Commissioners. Commissioners cited a need to re-evaluate the structure because of the expanding role a variety of departments were undertaking, including housing, homelessness, lands management and infrastructure development.

Among BERK’s recommendations was to reconfigure the role of the county administrator position. At the time, more than a dozen unrelated programs or functions were reporting to the position. The consultant recommended an administrator position be created that focused on economic services.

Under the reorganization, Cridlebaugh will lead economic development efforts at the county level while overseeing the directors and managers of external programs, including Housing, Ohme Gardens, Wenatchee River Park, the Chelan County Fair and Expo Center, the Cashmere Airport and the Fire Marshal’s Office.

The county administrator will focus on overseeing internal services and their directors and managers, including Facilities, Human Resources, IT, the clerk of the board, the budget director, and the public information officer.

“This reorganization will create efficiencies in the way the county delivers services to our citizens while also reducing the span of control for the commissioners from 15 directors and managers down to six,” Gering said. “It will also allow us to explore how to better fund some county programs. Several programs, for example, are funded heavily by grants. Part of the economic services director’s job will be to identify additional revenue opportunities to save taxpayers money and build upon our local economy for the future.”

Cridlebaugh added that he is excited to be undertaking the new position. “Chelan County is a wonderful place and I’m looking forward to building a new department that will have a positive impact on the people we serve,” he said. “Building something new is exciting and allows you to look at things with a different lens and think outside of the box.”

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