SHEDG selects economic director

The Sweet Home Economic Development Group hired Brian Hoffman of Pratt, Kan., Friday as the community’s new economic development director.

Hired by SHEDG, Hoffman will work closely with the Sweet Home Active Revitalization Effort committees, providing leadership in their economic development efforts.

Hoffman was one of two candidates introduced at a meet and greet Thursday night at the new All-Star Pizza, located at the intersection of 12th and Long streets. SHEDG previously had hosted a meet and greet for three other candidates.

Hoffman, 34, has served as the executive director of the Pratt Economic Development Corporation and the Pratt Area Chamber of Commerce since 2007, said SHEDG President Kevin Strong. Hoffman graduated from Oregon State University in 1999 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration and finance with a minor in economics.

His experience includes working for Coca-Cola as a plant finance manager, for North Valley Bank as a compliance analyst and working in California for the Siskiyou County Economic Development Council as a business development assistant.

“We were impressed with Brian’s team-building and communication skills,” Strong said. “We believe he will be a good fit for this position.”

Hoffman plans to relocate to Sweet Home in 30 to 60 days with his wife, Monica; daughter, Brianna; and son, Kaden.

“It’s an honor to be selected and be able to accept the position,” Hoffman said Monday.

He believes that it’s a good match both ways, for him and the Sweet Home community, he said. “I feel very comfortable. One of the things that first attracted me to the position is what I perceived as a strong volunteer base.”

The job is bigger than he is, Hoffman said. It comes down to him and the community to meet the goals of the job, he said.

He plans to visit and meet the majority of the business community within the first month, he said. He wants to learn about their struggles and add to what he knows already.

From there, “you have to go off what the people want,” he said. He comes from an entrepreneur background, and wants to create an entrepreneurial atmosphere in Sweet Home, one that will be inviting and allow growth.

He was raised in Northern California, so he is familiar with timber towns and economies based around timber, he said, and he’s looking forward to moving back to the area, close to family.

“I’ve always been in small rural towns during my career,” he said.

Pratt is a small town, but it is different from Sweet Home, Hoffman said. It is a town of 7,000 in a county of 9,000, he said. It is centered on oil, gas and agriculture and is a regional center. Visitors travel 45 miles to shop in Pratt.

“I think the challenge will be minimizing that leakage and giving people reasons to shop and spend their money in Sweet Home,” Hoffman said. The economy and unemployment also are challenges he anticipates facing. Pratt does not experience either problem the way Oregon has.

“I’m looking forward to being in Sweet Home with my family, rolling up our sleeves and getting going,” Hoffman said.

The second candidate introduced Thursday night was Ron Moore of Sweet Home.

Moore resigned as SHEDG president and began a leave of absence during the SHEDG board’s meeting on Nov. 18 so that he could also apply for the position.

“Ron has done so much for this community,” Strong said. “Speaking personally, I hope he comes back to our board. Really it’s Ron’s decision because he requested a leave of absence.”

Whether he may return to his position as president is ultimately a board decision, Strong said.

Moore will request that he return to the board, he said. “I guess the board’s going to have to determine if they want me to lead as president of the organization. My desire would be to lead again, but that’s a board decision.

“Obviously, I’m a little disappointed I wasn’t awarded the position. I’ve also got to trust the process.”

He couldn’t imagine being in the board’s position, he said. “I’ve met Brian briefly and think he’s got the skills to handle the position. I just have to trust the board made the right decision and picked the best person.”

He will have no problems working with Hoffman, Moore said, and he will do what’s best for the community.

The organization is at a crossroads after achieving so much with the Jamboree, Moore said. It’s time for SHEDG to begin doing other things.

“Let’s get it done,” he said. “I just want to thank the people who supported me in this. I would hope they trust the board’s decision and support Brian in his efforts to better our community. I want what’s best for the community ultimately.”

SHEDG was formed in 1989. As part of the organization’s economic development efforts, SHEDG produces the Oregon Jamboree, an annual three-day country music and camping festival held at the beginning of August.