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New economic development group forming to help county

The dozen or so members include the city and county planning directors, a contractor, a retired forester, a real estate broker, the school superintendent and others
A new commission is in the process of being formed, that would look at ways to bring new business to the county. County Commissioner Jerry Crafton said he was able to pull together a dozen members of the local business and civic leaders to work on the idea.
   After meeting to discuss the organization of a Community Development Commission, Crafton reported that some good ideas came forward. The commission will, once the membership is firmed up, be formally appointed by the county court. The proposal will, he said, carry the full support of the court.
   A number of suggestions on how to entice new businesses to locate here, or to assist any business in making that decision. Among the possible means of support discussed at the preliminary session was to help find available sites, help people who would like to buy a business and move it here and offer assistance in operating a business.
   What is seen as a major draw would be to help with grant writing and obtaining federal SBA (Small Business Administration) loans. Crafton said the county might even look at postponing county property taxes on a new business for a year or two.
   Another idea is deferring payment on the purchase of county land for a while. "The land is just sitting there now," he explained, "and does nothing. If we had an agreed on price, it would give them (the new business owner) a year or two to get stable before they have to start making payments."
   Once the commission is officially formed, contact will be made with other economic development type organizations. One of the founding members is the executive director of the chamber of commerce and it is believed that COED (Central Oregon Economic Development) and COIC (Central Oregon Intergovern-mental Council) will also be valuable partners.
   A second meeting will be held on Aug. 21 in the conference room at the courthouse annex, 200 S. Second St. County Judge Scott Cooper has been invited to address the group to give his views on the direction he would like to see the commission taking.
   Interested members of the public are invited to attend. The meeting is slated for 4 p.m.
   Crafton presented the list of those working to set up the commission.
   The original dozen members of the ad hoc commission were:
   Diane Bohle, chamber of commerce
   Dick Brown, Prineville Planning Director
   Bill Zelenka, Crook County Planning Director
   Phil Wick, Les Schwab Tire Centers
   Todd Vallie, Community First Bank
   Gary Peterson, Crook County School Superintendent
   Patsy Owens, real estate broker
   John Morgan, logger
   Phil Horton, forester
   Robert Childers, contractor
   Chet Petersen, Insurance
   Jeff Wilson, Crook County legal counsel
   Although it includes Todd Vallie of the Community First Bank and Les Schwab Tire Center's Phil Wick, both warned their individual business load was too heavy for them to take part. However, Crafton said that both gave him assurances that top members of their companies would take their place.