Board seeks new executive director as Kit Kamo goes part-time to ready for retirement

Kit Kamo sits in her office in the Albertson Building at Treasure Valley Community College on Wednesday. The executive director of the Snake River Economic Development Alliance is move into a part-time role, after serving in full-time positions since its inception.

ONTARIO — There will soon be a change at the helm of the Snake River Economic Development Alliance as Kit Kamo has assumed a part-time status from being the organization’s first executive director. 

The SREDA board has launched a search for her replacement, as Kamo moves toward full retirement. No date has been set at this time. 

An Oregon native from Arlington, Kamo said she has spent most of her career working in Malheur County.

According to her resume, from 1990 to 2011, Kamo was manager of the Malheur Soil and Water Conservation District; was the Malheur County Economic Development director, a position currently held by Greg Smith; taught an economic course at Treasure Valley Community College; was office manager for Beef Northwest Feeders and then went to work for the Idaho Department of Commerce as an economic development specialist, working in 12 counties in western and eastern Idaho, and 29 counties while the department was being restructured. 

While at that job, people in the lower Treasure Valley were working to develop a plant to bring economic stability to the three-county area of Malheur County and Washington and Payette counties in Idaho. Those people included Jim Jensen, then Malheur County Economic Development Director; Alan Daniels, then Ontario Economic Development Director; Jim Smith then Idaho Employment manager; and Courtney Thompson with the Weiser Chamber Commerce. 

It was through their call to the Idaho Commerce Department that they were connected to Kamo, and subsequently set up a tour to investigate the regional partnership in Twin Falls, which eventually led to the formation of SREDA. 

The group was expanded to include local government and business leaders who were instrumental in forming the nonprofit corporation and they began fundraising.

In 2010, the SREDA board members began interviewing for an executive director and not having been successful, Kamo began being drafted by Mike Hanigan for the position. She tried to decline, saying she had a “great job” with the state of Idaho, but she said Hanigan was very persuasive and she eventually accepted the position.

Kamo has no regrets.

“It’s the funnest job in the world,” she said. 

“I meet tons of people,” she said, adding she works with new businesses looking to locate in the local area and with existing businesses wanting to expand.

“We try to help them connect the dots,” Kamo said, to be successful in what they want to achieve. 

One of the changes from when she worked as Malheur County Economic Development Director and now working with SREDA, is being able to provide information more quickly to company officials looking for a place to locate. And, each inquiry is different.

She said her job is to show prospective business owners looking to move to the area what properties are available and may meet their requirements.

“We let them choose,” she said, commenting that they don’t try to direct them to any one location.  

“We want all businesses to be successful,” Kamo said.

She said it is “wonderful” to work with her communities and to have good relationships within them.

“You have to be partners with everybody,” she said.

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