UCEDC executive director resigns
Craig Thompson, executive director of the Union County Economic Development Corporation, resigned his position last week to move to Ohio.
Thompson said last Friday he is taking a job in Ohio, though he declined to be specific.
“An opportunity came up and I have accepted it. There’s an opportunity in the area for my wife, too, so we’re going home,” Thompson said Friday.
The UCEDC is a private, non-profit economic development group with close ties to the governments of the City of La Grande and Union County. It works to foster economic growth throughout the county.
Thompson’s resignation is effective Thursday. Howard Perry, the president of the UCEDC board, did not return calls placed to him this week.
Born and raised in Ohio, Thompson earned an associate’s degree in natural resource management from Muskingum Technical College in Zanesville. Later he graduated from Wright State University, also in Ohio, with a bachelor’s degree in geography.
He holds a master’s degree in public administration and a master’s in environmental management from the University of London.
Before hiring on at UCEDC in December 2003, Thompson had logged many years in the economic development and public administration fields.
In the early 1990s, he served as vice-president of the Longmont, Colo., Economic Development Corporation, and worked as a senior economist for the Wyoming Industrial Siting Administration.
Later, he worked as the director of the Community Development Department at Snowmass Village, Colo.
After coming on board with the UCEDC, Thompson was instrumental in the development of the La Grande Business and Technology Park, and in obtaining ConnectOregon funding for expansion of the Pendleton Grain Growers’ Alicel shipping facility. He has also been an active member of the La Grande Downtown Renaissance Committee.
“If I had to pick the projects I’m most proud of, those would be the top three,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s wife, Jo, is an anthropologist and teacher known internationally for her studies of bonobos, a species of ape that is thought to be the closest genetic link to man.
Thompson said he and his wife both have enjoyed their stay in La Grande.
“The hardest part of leaving is leaving the partners and stakeholders and the friends we’ve made. And we’ll miss the Grande Ronde Ronde Valley. It’s a scenic location and we’ve enjoyed that,” he said.
Thompson said he has always been impressed with the teamwork demonstrated by local people involved in economic development. He cited the Union County Contact Committee as an example.
The contact committee, consisting of individuals and entities from the public and private sectors, works on economic development projects including business recruitment, and retention and expansion of existing businesses.
Thompson is the second key local economic development leader to resign in recent months.
The Union County Chamber of Commerce is still searching for an executive director to replace Judy Loudermilk, who announced last spring she was resigning to move to Sunriver.