After 11-plus years as the Grant County economic development coordinator, Sally Bartlett has left to take a job as the general manager of the Burns Paiute Tribe starting Feb. 1.
“The job is similar to a city manager’s,” she told the Eagle. “I’m looking forward to the position. It’s a new adventure for me and a new opportunity.”
Grant County Judge Scott Myers noted that he has worked with four to five economic development coordinators over the past 18 years and was on the interview committee that recommended Bartlett being hired.
“She has a wealth of experience in grant writing and has been a stellar employee,” Myers said. “We may keep her on contract to track out Title III dollars in the future. She will be missed.”
Allison Field, who has been working part-time with Bartlett in the economic development office, was chosen to replace Bartlett at that position.
Bartlett was hired by the county in November 2007, about three months after Steve Dahl stepped down as economic development coordinator. She came from Boise, Idaho, where she had been the child nutrition programs coordinator for the state Department of Education.
At the time of her hiring, not only was the county facing severe economic conditions but the county government had lost federal timber payments and local businesses contributed funding to maintain the coordinator position.
About 10 months later, Bartlett announced new websites for both the county and the Grant County Chamber of Commerce. Bartlett continued to promote internet connectivity — she served on the committee that is currently overseeing a new website for the county.
“Sally has been a great asset to the county and a wonderful resource,” Chamber office manager Tammy Bremner said. “She has been my ‘go to’ person for so many things. I will miss her very much, and I wish her the very best in her new job.”
Bartlett carried her interest in nutrition with her to Grant County, helping to organize hunger assessment surveys in 2008 and 2010. She also played an instrumental role in getting the local farmers market and community garden started in 2010 and 2011, former Chamber president Jerry Franklin said.
“Sally is very knowledgeable, well liked, productive and well respected around the state,” he said. “She’s always had the county’s interests at heart.”
Through the years, Bartlett promoted business classes through the county’s Small Business Management Program, workforce training for local businesses and grants for value-added agricultural companies in the county.
In her time in the office, Bartlett helped about 100 individuals develop their business plans. Many small businesses and micro-businesses didn’t have anyone else to turn to for assistance, she explained.
Impacts from the Great Recession hit Grant County hard in 2009, and federal stimulus money was applied to several economic development projects, she said.
One was promoting the John Day Industrial Park near the airport. Bartlett said high land costs and limited suitable locations along the I-5 corridor will eventually drive business developers to rural places like John Day and its industrial park.
Rick Minster, at that time the local business development officer for the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department, worked with Bartlett on promoting the industrial park and other ideas. More recently, Bartlett assisted Minster in applying for a grant to help fund a new office and shelter for the Heart of Grant County.
“Sally always had the best interests of Grant County at heart and served the citizens of Grant County very professionally,” Minster said.
Bartlett promoted the Grant County Enterprise Zone as a way to generate jobs and business. In 2011, she assisted seven entrepreneurs establish business plans through the Grant County Resource Action Team (GREAT).
Her office periodically produced a 20-page newsletter on local economic development projects called “The Percolator, Grant County Business and Industry News,” which was inserted in the Blue Mountain Eagle.
She also worked with Irene Jerome and Eloise Boren to develop a detailed and very popular tourist map in anticipation of the 2017 eclipse event. Her office paid for the map, she said.
At one time, Bartlett was an appointee on at least 15 boards, including the South East Area Commission on Transportation and the Greater Eastern Oregon Development Corporation. She said most of her work took place in the background and was less visible.
“Sally’s done great in everything she’s done,” Lisa Weigum said. “She’s helped so many organizations.”