OTHELLO — The Adams County Development Council (ACDC) held its annual banquet on Thursday, June 27.
During the banquet, Adams County Development Council (ACDC) Business Development and Marketing Director Janice Rountree highlighted what ACDC has helped accomplish in the past year and what they hope to do in the next year. The goal of ACDC is the bring economic development to Adams County.
“Economic development is the intentional practice of improving a community’s economic well being and quality of life,” Rountree said.
That is accomplished through jobs and the growth of a resilient tax base. Cultivating future employees is one of the ways that ACDC is working to accomplish their mission. For the past two years, ACDC has held the Othello Career Showcase. Last year, the showcase exposed approximately 1,500 Othello eighth- through 12th-graders to 35 Othello businesses.
“They (the students) were able to interact with people of their chosen career path,” Rountree told attendees.
The event will be held again this October. Rountree is also working with Lind-Ritzville schools to bring a similar event to their area.
This past year, two renewable energy projects were either dedicated or announced. The Lind Solar Farm was dedicated in October 2018. In March 2019, Avista announced that it would be buying power from Clearway Energy Group’s Rattlesnake Flat Wind Project. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2020.
ACDC had attended trade shows to promote business investments in Adams County. They hope to bring hotels, fast food chains and more housing to the area.
“Manufacturers are currently expanding,” Rountree said. “New jobs are coming to the area. There’s not enough housing for all these people. We need to build infrastructure. Hopefully we will find new entrepreneurs along the way.”
Over the next year, Rountree is focusing on workforce development and small business assistance. After last fall’s Othello Career Showcase, Rountree was invited to teach Desert Oasis High School students about job interviews and resume writing.
“It lit a fire in my belly,” said Rountree. “We need to keep focusing on kids. They are our future workforce. My mission is to mentor high school kids. I will be going to every school in the county throughout the year teaching resume and job interview skills, helping with senior presentations or anything else that is needed.”
Rountree is also developing a small business assistance program and will be teaching small business classes quarterly. Before coming to ACDC, Rountree and her husband owned a restaurant in Ritzville. She wants to help people who have a business idea make that idea a reality.
During the banquet, Dan Hille was presented with the 2019 Distinguished Service Award for his involvement in promoting Adams County. He was a charter member of the Adams County Development Council and has been on numerous boards and committees.
The keynote speaker this year was Washington State University (WSU) President Kirk H. Schulz. Schulz told attendees about some of the ways that WSU is helping Adams County and other rural communities.
“WSU is everywhere,” said Schulz. “It is important that we are seen as the university that is bringing solutions to the challenges that we see in our state.”
WSU has raised enough money to purchase 10 acres with a building in Othello from Monsanto for the purpose of honey bee and pollinator research education.
“We are dedicated at WSU to make sure that we support the bee industry with its challenges,” Schulz said.
The USDA has given WSU funds for an additional research facility. It will be for plant science-based research. Schulz said that it will have a direct impact on agriculture in the state.
Schulz said that rural broadband is important to the state’s economic development as well.
“It is a fundamental piece of doing business today, promoting small business development and other business development in all of these areas,” he said.
Schulz closed his address by describing WSU Medicine’s involvement in rural healthcare.
“We are focusing on producing physicians for rural underserved areas,” Schulz said. “We are really pleased to continue to receive legislative funding to do this. Every single student at WSU Medicine is a Washington resident. We don’t have anybody from out of state. It is really important that if we are being funded by the state that we are meeting the needs of state residents.”
Students do part of their training in rural communities.
“Data shows that if students go to school in the same state as they do their residency, they stay in that state,” Schulz concluded.
Rachal Pinkerton may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.