OGDEN -- Weber County Commissioners took the next step in creating a new economic development division when they named Chief Deputy Clerk Auditor Douglas Larsen as the new economic development director.
"I couldn't be more excited about the challenge we have and the opportunity to be part of building a new economic development office for Weber County," Larsen said. "I'm tremendously excited about this."
The announcement is the first step in an attempt to rethink the county's business model.
In the past, the county has contracted with the Weber Economic Development Corporation to oversee economic development. During that time, the county focused on industrial development, such as creating industrial business parks.
With the announcement of Weber Economic Development Corporation's Director Ron Kusina's retirement, the county took the opportunity to bring economic development in-house.
The commissioners hopes Larsen can diversify the county's economic development efforts
It is important to have someone who values and understands the challenges of the private sector, as well as the constraints of government, Commissioner Jan Zogmaister said in a news release. Larsen brings experience from both arenas, and has the structure necessary for success.
"He's got a good background of both public and private," Zogmaister said. "That balance is going to help us go forward."
Larsen brings experience working with the County Redevelopment Agency, Transportation and Tax Administration, as well as direct business start-up and ownership experience, Zogmaister said. This experience will be an asset as the county explores and develops new formats for Economic Development.
By creating the department and diversifying development efforts, commissioners hope students from Weber State University and other area schools will be better able to find jobs upon graduation.
According to county officials, one specific area of focus will be coupling transportation planning with economic development efforts. Transportation systems connect labor, capital and land between producer and consumer.
The commissioners said the new focus would include all of the communities in the county, taking into account the county's diversity, which includes farming, Business Depot Ogden, Ogden Valley ski resorts and Weber State University.
"We want this to involve the mayors because we want it to be a county-wide push for economic development," Zogmaister said.
By working with the cities, Zogmaister said the new economic development division can take into account all of the resources available, not just those in unincorporated areas of the county.
Larsen assumes the economic development director position immediately.