After working for the last several years as Rural Development Specialist for South Central Oregon Economic Development District (SCOEDD), Ginger Casto is moving on to become the first Executive Director for Lakeview Community Partnership (LCP) starting on Saturday, Feb. 1.
Casto views her new role with LCP similar to what she has done with SCOEDD since she was first hired in 2014, except on a more concentrated scale focused on Lakeview rather than the entirety of Lake County. She will still work with the Brownfields program, until that program ends in approximately two years.
Prior to the executive director position’s creation, LCP was entirely run by volunteers since its founding in 2015. In the years since its formation, LCP has grown through projects and volunteers to the point where a full-time director was needed. Recently Ann Logan, board president of LCP, went before Lakeview Town Council to request funds for the hire of a permanent executive director for one year. Logan explained that trying to keep LCP entirely volunteer-run was becoming difficult, and they needed someone full-time to raise money, apply for grants, and oversee projects.
The Town of Lakeview gave LCP $25,000 for the hire of an executive director. Shortly before the Town Council meeting the Oregon Community Foundation also announce $25,000 for LCP towards the hire. These funds were combined with $10,000 from LCP’s own funds.
Casto has long helped LCP and volunteered with the organization. A highlight of her work over the past few years has been the reopening of the Alger Theater in downtown Lakeview, with a successful fundraising and grant campaign resulting in purchase of the building by LCP. Now that they own the building, Casto wants to work on renovations and expansion of the footprint. See related article.
She views her role as more than just supporting the Alger, she also sees it as helping businesses and empty storefronts in downtown Lakeview. Casto wants to work with business owners on repairing façades and helping out, with the possibility of restoring original brick facades that once adorned Lakeview’s historic downtown structures. An example of some of the early brick-work can be seen above Ty’s Barbershop, after part of the Snyder Building’s façade unexpectedly fell to the ground exposing the brick underneath late last year.
Casto’s new full-time position will allow her to fundraise from individuals, organizations, and pursue grants for various projects. She would like to see more businesses in existing buildings, but realizes that the size of buildings can be prohibitive for many people looking to open a small business. She wants to work with building owners on possibly splitting up spaces to make them smaller and easier to open a small business.
“You can’t have economic development without community development, and that is what I want to do as the Executive Director,” said Casto.
While work on downtown facades will take time and a partnership with business owners, there are some competitive grant programs, such as Oregon Main Street Diamond in the Rough program, to assist. Casto feels that the perception of storefronts is something that will help revitalize Lakeview.