By Reader Staff
In partnership with the city of Sandpoint, the Bonner County Economic Development Corporation revised its bylaws in 2022, drafted a new strategic plan and restated its purpose, mission, vision and goals. In the process, BCEDC rebranded itself as the Pend Oreille Economic Partnership, and, in December 2022, hired Brent Baker as its new executive director.
The Pend Oreille Economic Partnership announced Baker’s appointment officially Feb. 24, as well as set the dates for two upcoming events.
The private 501(c)(6) nonprofit economic development corporation continues three decades of serving area communities by working to “develop a vibrant economy of diverse businesses and industries that offer quality job opportunities and help build prosperity for all in Bonner County,” according to the announcement.
A meet-and-greet to welcome Baker to his new role is scheduled for Thursday, March 2, where attendees will have the chance to learn more about the Pend Oreille Economic Partnership, its programs and initiatives. Baker will also announce the return of the organization’s economic summit in May, after having been on hold since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sponsored by The Innovia Foundation, the meet-and-greet — including refreshments — is scheduled from 5-6:30 p.m. at Barrel 33 (100 N. First Ave., in Sandpoint).
Baker’s appointment as executive director continues his longtime leadership in the local business community. A resident of Bonner County since 1977, Baker has been at the helm of a number of companies, serving industries ranging from construction, real estate development and resort management, to ranching and forestry, project and property management, and investment.
Upon retirement in 2016, he took up business consulting, coaching and education, which he continues today. Baker launched Elevate Now Consulting in February 2020, focusing on elements such as leadership, company culture and innovation.
A certified master executive coach, Baker has also served the community as a member of the Lakes Commission since its inception in 2003 and, together with Sandpoint High School Athletic Director John Knowles, co-founded the SHS Residential Carpentry Program, leading the grant-writing effort to secure its funding.
Also in the education field, Baker co-founded the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Gnomus in 1994, which developed and delivered middle-school science education programs to under-served community public schools. Adopted and administered through the U.C. Berkeley Math, Engineering and Science Achievement Program, the offerings provided by Gnomus were also sponsored by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif.
In addition, Baker and Bonner County Justice Services Director Debbie Stallcup designed and put into place a youth job skills training program at the Bonner County Juvenile Detention Center.
He has served as a school board chairman and fire district commissioner, as well as founded and participated in several other community programs.
“I am presently keenly interested in bringing all my experience to bear for the benefit of our community,” Baker stated. “And it is amazing, because the pillars of economic development include strengthening the public education system, protecting the environment, developing infrastructure, growing a capable and available workforce, housing that workforce affordably, providing tools and resources for existing businesses to thrive and attracting new non-polluting businesses to our community.
“So while I had wondered about which one area of nonprofit work I should possibly segue to, I stumbled on to this opportunity, where all of those aspects come into play, and where all of my previous experience aligns,” he added. “That is the serendipity.”
To learn more about the Pend Oreille Economic Partnership, visit bonnercountyedc.com.
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