WENATCHEE — Blake Baldwin accepted the position Thursday as Chelan County Economic Development program director.
It is a new position that the Chelan County Commission created to attract business to unincorporated areas.
Baldwin will start the new position on Sept. 16 and it pays $84,548.76 a year, County Administrator Cathy Mulhall said. Baldwin was selected out of two finalists and eight applicants.
The job is a three-year contracted position with the possibility of renewal depending upon performance.
Baldwin and his fiancee grew up in the Wenatchee Valley, he said. They now live in Spokane area and are excited for the opportunity to return to their hometowns.
“I see this position as an opportunity to try to develop the economy and bring more jobs to the community to make the county a better place to live and work and play,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin currently works for Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration, he said. He has been the Central and Eastern Washington regional representative for the last two years and the governor’s director of outreach since February.
Through his job at the governor’s office Baldwin has worked with communication staff and handled media coordination, according to his resume. He also works with the state Department of Commerce to identify economic development opportunities.
Baldwin worked for State Sen. Brad Hawkins’, R-East Wenatchee, office for three years from 2014 to 2017, according to his resume. He also worked as a sales representative and technical support associate for GTC Technical Support from 2005 to 2014.
Baldwin has a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Washington State University and studied music composition from the Cornish College of the Arts.
He hopes to focus on opportunity zones in his new position, Baldwin said. Opportunity zones are places where businesses can invest with deferred, reduced or removed capital gain taxes.
Malaga and the former Alcoa plant are in an opportunity zone and have a lot of potential for growth, he said.
“There is not a lot of property like that in the state that’s established, there is infrastructure, there are rail lines going to it, there are tons of affordable power,” Baldwin said. “It is a site that is ready to go and I think we can find the right fit to go in there.”
A lot of different industries can be successful in Chelan County, though, he said. The county provides opportunities for everything from technology centers to tourism and recreation.
“I don’t think we’re going to be putting all of our eggs into one basket trying to bring in the next Boeing,” Baldwin said. “If we’re able to bring a company in like a tourism industry up in Chelan and provide three jobs, I think that is a serious win for the county as well.”