By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Regional Development Corporation’s annual meeting yielded two notable announcements from business leaders.
The first, the leader of the Clinton Regional Development Corporation is leaving. The second, that business deals at the railport are close to being complete.
CRDC President and CEO Steven Ames announced he will leave for a job as senior vice-president of economic development with the Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance, based in Modesto, Calif.
“It is bittersweet that I make the announcement today that I have accepted a new position,” Ames said. ”I’m moving to northern California to work with a regional economic development organization just south of the San Francisco Bay area. It’s very very bitter sweet to make that announcement today.”
Ames has served as President and CEO for CRDC since September 2005.
“Thank you for allowing me to serve as President and CEO for this long-standing organization. I will never forget the friendships, professional alliances, and opportunities that I accrued during my time here,” Ames said.
The announcement was preceeded by a review of the previous year, a presentation by Charley Eisele, senior vice-president of Strategic Planning and Administration, of the Union Pacific Railroad and a look forward.
“Clinton Regional Development Corporation is continuing to aggressively carry out its mission We have a strong manufacturing base that continues to expand with many exciting projects on the horizon,” Ames said.
Ames stressed that strong partnership alignment is required to continue this mission. Among those partnerships is the one with the Union Pacific Railroad.
Eisele delivered his keynote speech to the approximately 90 people who were in attendance.
“Clinton in particular is critically important to us. Together we have focused a lot, of late, on investing in Clinton and the Clinton region,” he said.
According to Eisele, two deals with railroad industry suppliers are all but complete.
“Those two deals are fundamentally agreed to in terms of the principles, the lawyers are now trying to work out all of the language. Hopefully that will happen sooner than later,” Eisele said.
Union Pacific is also working on increasing capacity at Low Moor and committed funds for next year to move crew change points to Low Moor.
Eisele also spoke briefly of the railroad bridge construction.
“This is a big project, this is a huge project. This is probably one of the single largest rail infrastructure investment in a single project in a long, long time,” he said.
While acknowledging the economic woes of the are and the country, Eisele said the foundation for Clinton to rebound when the economy regains strength already exist.
“This partnership has poised the Clinton regional area, has poised Union Pacific to be ready for when we see that strong economy come back. The economic development, the land is there, the rail tracks are there, the commitment of the community, the commitment of the state is there,” Eisele said “We will be the first out in driving growth in this area.”
Rich Phelan, the 2013 CRDC board chairman delivered remarks on the vision for the future of the region.
Next year the CRDC will be focused on four initiatives: the railport, reinforcing the CRDC budget to increase investor support, working together and workforce development.
“Frankly folks we have a reputation of not working well together. That must change,” Phelan said. “The communities on both sides of the river must work together or surely we will hang separately.”