City of Fortuna, foundation partner to bring in economic specialist

Judy Harrison is the new Economic Development Specialist in Fortuna and will use her skills to positively assist business and create programs to grow the economy in the Eel River Valley.

A partnership between the McLean Foundation and the city of Fortuna is generating a new focus on economic development projects in the Eel River Valley. An economic development specialist has been hired by the McLean Foundation to work closely with the city of Fortuna on a number of specific projects.

Judy Harrison, who formally worked with the city of Eureka's Economic Development Department, will be working side-by-side with Fortuna City Manager Regan Candelario and other city officials.

"It's like coming home, since I used to live in the Eel River Valley growing up," said Harrison, who said the new position "fits my niche of locating funding streams for large projects. It will be a pleasure utilizing my skills to assist the Eel River Valley."

And although no "priority list" for economic development has been established, there are several projects that are getting serious attention. One is a community center, another is health care, and a third is the new police facility.

McLean Foundation President Dennis Scott said the community center is important, especially in light of the fact that the Multi-Generational Center (MGC) is looking for a new home. "It's important that we save that concept." Scott said of the MGC. "A very important project will be the location of a community center in the city, and we will be working closely with the city of Fortuna," Scott said.

"Having a person of Judy's qualifications here is a huge step for us," he said. "She will help us move forward on many projects that we have wanted to see developed in the Eel River Valley."

Another economic development project briefly described to the Fortuna Chamber of Commerce recently is the establishment of an Open Door Health Clinic in Fortuna. A meeting was scheduled to be held this week to get all the parties together to talk about a stand-alone clinic, possibly on land near Redwood Memorial Hospital.

Other job responsibilities for Harrison include highlighting ways to encourage business growth, create programs to support businesses to become more successful, and locate funding opportunities to support programs and agencies in the Eel River Valley.

"This type of partnership between the city of Fortuna and the McLean Foundation is very special," said Erin Dunn, executive director of the Fortuna Chamber of Commerce.

"We are lucky to have both a forward-thinking city manager and a local Foundation who understand how important economic development is to the future of Fortuna and the Eel River Valley," she said.