News

Juliann Dodds Believes in the Mission of the EDC

Posted on Apr 29, 2016

Juliann Dodds"We live in a great community," says Juliann Dodds, Senior Vice President Commercial Banking Manager at Umpqua Bank in Moses Lake. Dodds has lived in Grant County for 19 years. She came to the Columbia Basin when Basic American transferred her husband, Mike, to Moses Lake. "I can be a banker anywhere," she explains with her ready smile. "I'm just a banker," she says. "I've been a banker for 25 years."

Dodds has been working at Sterling Savings, now Umpqua Bank, since she arrived in Grant County. Before that, she lived in Southeast Idaho where she was also a banker, starting after graduating Boise State University. She grew up in Idaho Falls and then Boise.

While going to college at BSU, Dodds worked at an open-pit gold mine near the Frank Church Wilderness Area in the middle of Idaho. She worked on the powder crew, which means she handled explosives. "It was a fun job and I liked it."

Now Dodd "loves" her job at Umpqua Bank. "It provides an avenue to work with people and their dreams," she explains. And as people's dreams move forward, so does the community, she adds. "And that's important in a small town." She enjoys that she works with both commercial banking and agriculture.

Dodds says commodity prices are a challenge this year for the agriculture side. She wants to "focus on growing the community without diminishing the quality of life." She tries to make smart decisions about which nonprofits to support and the value they add to the area. "The business community is very supportive and that's a good thing."

Dodds's current term on the Grant County Economic Development Board of Directors started in 2013, but she's been on the board consistently for a while. Bob Trask first asked her to be a director and from there she got on committees and then on the executive committee and finally a turn as president of the board in 2010. "It's a good board," she says. "The board and the paid staff do a very good job providing details on broad subjects and all the good things they've accomplished over the years," Dodds explains.

"I believe in the mission of bringing development to Moses Lake and Grant County," Dodds says of the EDC. She wants there to be opportunity not only for people who live in Grant County, but for kids growing up here. "I want my son to have the opportunity to not only have a career, but an amazing career" if he chooses to stay in Grant County, Dodds says.

Also, Dodds adds, "I think of the past five to six years, they've become an organization where people can gather in a room and talk about how we can move forward." There can be meetings with "all the players" to address strengths and weaknesses and be honest, Dodds explains. That way, "when a corporation chooses a site, it's based on facts."

"They're a resource with a tremendous ability to gather information and contacts," Dodds adds about the EDC. And they can make that information available to existing members, she says. Also, the Trends website (www.grantcountytrends.ewu.edu/) has "tons of information," says Dodds. "I use it every day." And the EDC pays part of the cost for that website.

"I am really looking forward to the new Executive Director," Dodds says. "She will provide direction and support and communication between members and the EDC and the community."

The biggest change Dodds says she's seen in Grant County is the diversification of the economy. "Which is really good," she says. As one sector's economy goes up and down, she explains, another sector will balance that out. "So we have a more stable economy and that's good for small business." There is also a "higher economic baseline to the overall economic community."

Dodds is very active in the Moses Lake community. For example, she's on the Samaritan Healthcare Foundation board, Rotary Scholarship Foundation board, Grant County Family Services board, and is active in the Noon Rotary Club in Moses Lake.

But, Dodds says, "We have to solve the educational issues facing Moses Lake. Education as a whole is something we have to look at as it moves through the county." Dodds says it needs to be examined both in how it's delivered, and how to move students forward to support the growth in the community. "We haven't tapped into the cost-benefit in education."

Dodds smiles and says, "I live on Crab Creek" and gets to hunt and fish in her backyard. In the winter the family skis and in the summer they ride bikes "all over." "I love going fishing," she adds. They also hike and camp.

She likes all the diverse organizations that work to improve the community. "We're inclusive" she says of Grant County. "If you go to an event, you're warmly welcomed" and you don't see that in other communities.