Mitchell closes door on move

January 01, 2014 10:41 am

Economic development director ready to tackle 2014 issues in La Grande 

The City of La Grande will not be looking for a new community and economic development director.

That’s because community and Economic Development Director Charlie Mitchell isn’t going anywhere. 


Mitchell announced Tuesday that despite being the top candidate for city manager in Philomath, he will be staying put. He is not accepting the Philomath position and will remain in La Grande indefinitely.

“It was a financial decision primarily,” Mitchell said. “This was a unique opportunity for me and my family, but in the end, it just didn’t pencil out for us, which reinforced our desire to stay in La Grande.”

Mitchell said he stresses that his dedication to La Grande hasn’t changed.

“It is essential for me to ensure the citizens of La Grande that I remain dedicated to serving this community. This dedication has not diminished,” he said.

The Philomath City Council voted to allow its city manager to enter negotiations with Mitchell Dec. 18. At that time, Mitchell said the prospect would be good for his family. Both his and his wife’s family live along the Interstate 5 corridor, he said. Philomath is located about five miles west of Corvallis.

La Grande Mayor Daniel Pokorney said he was glad to hear Mitchell would be staying.

“Charlie’s done a great job for us. We’re happy with his efforts in economic development,” Pokorney said. “We look forward to working more with him.”

City Manager Robert Strope says that work will begin soon. The city council retreat this month will help the council prioritize for the coming year. Strope said they had taken a little time to evaluate how that might work with Mitchell leaving, but now it’s a non-issue.

“We’re able to continue as we had planned before it looked like he might be leaving,” Strope said. “I’m really happy Charlie’s chosen to stay in
La Grande.”

Mitchell says heading into 2014 and the upcoming retreat, he knows economic development is going to be a big topic. Councilors expressed this fall an interest in re-evaluating economic development strategies at the retreat.

“I’m keeping an open mind,” Mitchell said. “I’ll be bringing ideas to the table and discussing them and seeing what makes the most sense.”

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter @lgoDucote.