Baker County hires Rep. Greg Smith

Smith

Baker County has hired state Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, as its new economic development director.

Smith, 42, represents District 57 in the Oregon House of Representatives. District 75 covers Union, Wallowa and Morrow counties and part of Umatilla County. Smith and his wife, Sherri, own a business consulting firm, Gregory Smith and Co., which operates offices in Heppner and La Grande. Smith also manages the Eastern Oregon University’s Small Business Development Center.

The Baker County Commission signed a contract with Smith’s company last week. His company will earn $96,000 a year, or $8,000 per month, to recruit new businesses to Baker County and support existing ones.

County Commission Chair Fred Warner said Smith will also revamp the county’s web site and keep it up-to-date.

“Basically, we need someone to be the first point of contact for all the economic development leads and services,” Warner said. “We want to ensure that Baker County is competitive in attracting prospective companies.”

Smith promised to open an office in downtown Baker City where he and his staff will assist local business owners with loan and grant applications or business planning. His contract also specifies he will provide quarterly statistical data on the number of entrepreneurs he advises, along with the result they saw after seeking Smith’s help.

The county commission chose Smith from four applicants. His was the highest bid for the services but, Warner said, “He was, in everybody’s estimation, the right person for the job.”

Smith starts a five-month legislative session in Salem next week. He said juggling three offices will take a lot of his time, but his employees will do much of the work.

“I have amazing staff,” he said. “When I sit down to work with a business owner, my staff has done all the prep work necessary to ensure our meetings are fruitful and deliberative.”

During legislative sessions, Smith said, he usually drives home and works around 25 hours over the weekends. He and his wife work very long hours, he said, but they have a goal in sight. When their daughter, in second grade now, graduates from high school, they plan to go on a church mission overseas.

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