SCOEDD longtime director to retire

Danielle Jester

Mon Jun 21 2021 07:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

South Central Oregon Economic Development District will soon be losing its longtime — and only — executive director, Betty Riley, who has been at SCOEDD’s helm since 2006.

South Central Oregon Economic Development District will soon be losing its longtime — and only — executive director, Betty Riley, who has been at SCOEDD’s helm since 2006. In that time, she has helped make SCOEDD a standalone organization and has been instrumental in bringing millions of dollars in economic development resources to Lake and Klamath Counties.

Her replacement has not yet been hired, but Riley hopes it will be someone who won’t simply continue what she has done, but will develop new strategies and bring fresh energy to the role.

Riley has worked in economic development since the late 1980s. Despite those decades of work in the field, Riley said it is not at all what she initially envisioned herself doing. In fact, she said, it’s her third career.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood development and in her late 20s was managing a daycare center.

When her daughters were just starting school, Riley and her husband moved to Socorro, New Mexico where his parents managed a KOA campground. Her husband helped run and maintain the campground. Riley was the community outreach contact for the business and helped with the bookkeeping.

As she became more involved with the community, she got on the board of the local chamber of commerce. Eventually, she became executive director of the chamber and was active in the economic development committee for Socorro.

After a move to California, Riley became executive director of an economic development agency that served four counties in the Sierra Nevada foothills. The agency covered the Tahoe Basin and Roseville, Calif. — one of the fastest-growing cities in California at the time.

That position prepared Riley to take on the executive director role at SCOEDD; much of what she has done for the two agencies has been similar, she said.

She said she is most proud of the loan programs she has helped establish at SCOEDD. Riley has a passion for helping businesses with their financing needs and supporting entrepreneurship and said she has loved developing programs to aid start-ups.

She added that while she has lived and worked out of Klamath County during her time with SCOEDD, she has always enjoyed working with Lake County.

Riley lived in a small town in northern Maine until she entered high school and said she likes to work with small communities.

The most challenging part of her job, she said, is always having to fundraise and figure out what SCOEDD’s next funding source will be. She shared that it can be difficult to convince people to put money into programs.

The past year also brought its own set of challenges. Riley said she has missed connecting with people in-person. SCOEDD works with many state agencies whose employees are still not permitted to travel. “I miss community meetings and having coffee with people,” she expressed.

Riley said SCOEDD has received “quite a few” applications from candidates for her position. There is a possibility her replacement won’t be named by the time she departs, but she isn’t worried. “We have existing staff who are very capable,” she said.