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Kittitas County exec to lead development at Port of Douglas County

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EAST WENATCHEE — The Port of Douglas County has hired a Kittitas County official as its new economic development director.

Ron Cridlebaugh, currently serving as economic development director of the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce, was selected from a pool of 19 applicants that included local and out-of-state professionals.

The port announced the hiring Tuesday. Cridlebaugh will begin work March 17.

We hope to use (Cridlebaugh’s) extensive experience in business development and recruitment, downtown revitalization and collaboration to move economic development forward for Douglas County and the entire region,” said Lisa Parks, the port’s executive director.

Cridlebaugh has served as executive director of the Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce, Ellensburg Business Development Authority and the Economic Development Group of Kittitas County. During that time, he assisted hundreds of small businesses with everything from business planning and marketing to site selection and permitting, said a port press release. He has also worked on projects from siting a new grocery store to helping plan a wind power project.

Cridlebaugh has also been involved in the operation of the Ellensburg Business Incubator, which has helped nurture small and start-up businesses, including the top-ranked Iron Horse Brewery.

He has also managed both the Ellensburg and Kittitas County tourism programs and guided downtown revitalization projects, including leasing a full slate of residential apartment and commercial spaces in a downtown Ellensburg building that was previously 90 percent vacant.

He’s also taught a 12-week Small Business Administration course for entrepreneurs.

The port’s interview panel chose six finalists from the pool of 19. The panel included Parks, port commissioner Mark Spurgeon, and Wenatchee economic development director Steve King.

The six people interviewed were all very qualified, making this an extremely difficult decision,” Parks said.

Mike Irwin: 665-1179

Reach Mike Irwin at 509-665-1179 or . Read his blog Everyday Business or follow him on Twitter at @MikeIrwinWW.