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SOREDI gets a new executive director

After casting a wide net in its search for a new executive director, Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc.'s board decided the right person was already here.

Colleen Padilla, a 15-year veteran of the agency, will succeed Ron Fox when he retires May 31.

“Colleen’s hands-on experience and passion for our region made it clear she’s the right fit," said Aaron Ausland, SOREDI's incoming board chair, in a statement.

Following a three-month search, Padilla was chosen over 50 applicants, including finalists from Colorado and Nevada. She served under former SOREDI executive director Gordon Safley for five years before Fox took over and has handled a variety of roles, including senior business development manager.

"Her support from public and private peers in the industry was astounding," Ausland said. "She has proven to be creative and possesses an open-minded zeal needed to take SOREDI into the future."

Padilla said she long has aspired to lead the primary economic development agency for Jackson and Josephine counties, and discussed the matter during the past year with Fox.

"I bring a historical perspective," Padilla said. "From having been out in the business community, I know a lot of their needs, expectations and have good relationships."

She has seen SOREDI grow and struggle along with local communities during good times and bad. Padilla said SOREDI's six-person staff is far more effective than when there were four in the office and she handled both recruitment and retention.

"Today, we're in a really good place with a strong staff," she said. "There are always restraints out of our control, be it recession or lack of capital in the market for businesses to expand. But our role is to help business."

Padilla doesn't anticipate any change of course.

"I know we need to work on workforce development," she said. "We'll continue to do the good things we're doing and engaging the community and business community to help them prosper."

While "launch, relocate and prosper" is SOREDI's mantra, times and circumstances create different approaches.

"What we put our emphasis on can change year to year," Padilla said. "During the recession we weren't attracting companies, but we were helping existing companies survive."

Padilla was instrumental in developing a regional marketing campaign known as the “Southern Oregon Edge” and has won several state awards. She earned a bachelor's degree in communication and a master's in management from Southern Oregon University. She is secretary of the Oregon Economic Development Association board.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.

Colleen Padilla