EDC executive director announces resignation

Sharon Sappington is resigning from executive director of the Economic Development Council.

Sharon Sappington has announced that she is leaving her role after six years as executive director of the Island County Economic Development Council to embark on new endeavors. She will remain at the EDC until the end of May, according to a press release.

Under Sappington’s leadership, the EDC benefitted from her experience leading organizational transformations and business rebuilding efforts, the organization reported. During her tenure, EDC received over $1.5 million in federal and state grants on top of its normal funding to assist small businesses, emerging entrepreneurs, chambers of commerce and Main Street Associations, both during and after the COVID pandemic.

Sappington was instrumental in leading the development of the first-ever countywide Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. With completion of the CEDS scheduled for this fall, the collaborative strategic planning document will shape economic development in the county for years to come.

“Sharon’s outstanding leadership, expertise, and unwavering dedication have truly transformed the EDC into the outstanding organization we are all proud of today,” George Henny, EDC board president, said in a press release. “We hope her new journey provides her with much satisfaction and the opportunity to help others as much as she did here at the EDC.”

Most impactful at the small business level was the grant that Sappington applied for and received to strengthen EDC’s Entrepreneur Ecosystem Initiative. She received $1.16 million in funding from the state Department of Commerce for the program “Elevating & Investing in Small Businesses in Rural Island County + Skagit County.” In addition to receiving free business education and mentorship, many participating businesses received grant funding through the program.

Collaborative efforts during Sappington’s tenure were significant, including placing Whidbey Island Local Lending — a peer-to-peer lending group — and Whidbey Entrepreneurs, a network and educational group, under the EDC umbrella. With the burden of administrative details shouldered by the EDC, the two programs were able to continue and flourish.

Sappington also served on multiple boards and committees, including the NW Workforce Council, Skagit Valley College Worker Retraining Advisory Committee, Leadership Whidbey Oversight Committee, Island County Tourism, the Island Regional Transportation Planning Organization Technical Advisory Committee and the Whidbey Community Foundation’s Impact Investing Committee.

Sappington said it was a privilege to serve in the role.

“I am grateful for the valuable experiences and relationships that were built, and I look forward to witnessing the continued success and growth of the organization in the future,” she said.

The EDC will launch a search for a new executive director soon. The position is planned to be posted on the EDC employment webpage at iscoedc.com/employment.