After 22 years, Roger Lee who has led the Economic Development for Central Oregon, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing in new business, is stepping down, according to a prepared statement.

EDCO has named Jon Stark as interim CEO, beginning Jan. 3. Stark has been with the Redmond Economic Development Inc., which operates under the EDCO umbrella, for 13 years, most recently as senior director.

Stark was looking forward to his new role and to continuing the legacy that Lee will leave behind.

“There’s a good team in place that has helped make things happen,” Stark said in an interview. “I have an opportunity coming from a senior director position to in for a 20-year veteran. I don’t take that lightly.”

Lee has accepted a position at Summit Bank, according to the statement.

“I am personally very excited that Jon has accepted this new role,” said Carolyn Eagan, city of Bend recovery strategy and impact officer, in a prepared statement. “EDCO is so lucky to have an outstanding economic development leader in line to follow a legendary one.”

Eagan is EDCO’s president of the board of directors.

Redmond Mayor George Endicott said Lee will be missed as a steadfast supporter for Central Oregon’s traded sectors, areas of business that sell their output in competition with businesses in other states.

“I think all of Central Oregon’s communities have seen the success of EDCO under (Lee’s) leadership,” Endicott said in an email. “Whether it be a new industry, new flights at Redmond Airport or improved communication among the communities, he will be missed.”

Lee, who has helped broker many deals that brought economic expansion to the region, was named the 2021 Oregon Economic Development Leader of the Year by the Oregon Economic Development Association.

As someone who looks at the economy of Central Oregon every day, Damon Runberg, Oregon Employment Department regional economist, said Lee has played a role in the community for many years.

“He has been a strong leader who helped drive positive change and lead our region out of disaster that was the Great Recession,” Runberg said in an email. “We are a stronger and more prosperous community due to (Lee’s) service, dedication and vision.”

Runberg said that in the interim, Stark’s experience and enthusiasm will keep the community growing economically.

“I can’t think of anyone better suited to fill the big shoes that (Lee) leaves behind,” said Runberg.

EDCO is in its 40th year. It is a nonprofit corporation that works to create middle-class jobs in Central Oregon by recruiting employers to move to the region. The nonprofit also helps entrepreneurs start new, scalable businesses and works with businesses to grow their operations.

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