Kevin Ventrudo, middle, talks to, Audrey Danner, from left, Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership board member; Scott Cook, board chairman; Jerry Thompson, board vice-chair; and Gene Bilodeau, Craig Chamber of Commerce board president, at an informal meet and greet hosted by EDP. Ventrudo is the possible candidate for EDP's economic development specialist position.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Kevin Ventrudo, middle, talks to, Audrey Danner, from left, Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership board member; Scott Cook, board chairman; Jerry Thompson, board vice-chair; and Gene Bilodeau, Craig Chamber of Commerce board president, at an informal meet and greet hosted by EDP. Ventrudo is the possible candidate for EDP's economic development specialist position.

Potential hire meets with public

EDP introduces candidate to locals

— After meeting with a gaggle of local business, government and non-profit representatives Thursday afternoon, prospective hire Kevin Ventrudo was impressed with the diversity of questions coming from the audience.

"It was very interesting," Ventrudo said. "I think the opportunities and upsides here (in Craig and Moffat County) are so great, it's hard to see it all fit into a part-time job."

Ventrudo is the final candidate for the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership's economic development specialist position. He arrived at the Craig Holiday Inn to meet the community before accepting the job.

The position is intended to be a part-time executive job, using directions from the EDP board and putting them into action.

EDP and Ventrudo have not worked out final terms, and there is a possibility Ventrudo will not fill the position, EDP members said.

There is enough work to keep whoever takes the position busy, EDP board member Marianna Raftopoulos said.

Questions and concerns directed at Ventrudo came readily from the audience.

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers asked how Ventrudo would approach the criticism that the city of Craig is too restrictive on building.

Carol Jacobson, Downtown Books owner and Downtown Business Association representative, asked how Ventrudo would get all of Moffat County's different groups working together.

Ventrudo asked what would happen if one of the county's major taxpayers - all energy companies - were to slow down production or pull out.

No one had easy answers.

"We (the EDP board) do think it's a full-time job," Raftopoulos said. "We start at a part-time job (because) we've been through some challenges."

Ventrudo also has had a humble background, he said.

"I was a scholarship student in college," Ventrudo said. "I'm from an Ivy League school, but I do not have an Ivy League background."

Ventrudo received an undergraduate degree in economics from Yale University and a master's degree from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Since then, he has worked with various investment banking firms and other corporations around the country, including serving one year as the chief financial officer for L.A. Gear.

"I've lived in New York, L.A., Chicago, and Steamboat seemed like the next natural place," Ventrudo said.

Taking a position with less glamour - and less pay - such as EDP specialist, is not a concern, he added.

"I've been fortunate enough to have some success in business," Ventrudo said. "At this point : there's more to it than money."

Ventrudo's mix of blue and white-collar sensibilities is one of the main reasons he was selected among stiff competition, EDP Interim Director Scott Ford said.

"He has a unifying personality and a realistic approach," Ford said. "He can move easily between formal and informal politics. I think he'll enjoy working with us as much as we'll enjoy working with him."

Ventrudo's seeming willingness to learn also is heartening for the board, which is trying to fill a position intended to work closely with them, Ford said.

Ventrudo, for his part, said he had no qualms taking directions.

"Frankly, working by yourself is not much fun," he said.

After the meeting, general sentiment was that Ventrudo was "very qualified" and "personable."

Most lamented that Ventrudo was too busy answering questions to get a chance to ask a few. Because of that, some attendees felt they did not get a full sense of who Ventrudo was.

"We did all the talking, and he didn't get a chance to say much," Craig City Manager Jim Ferree said. "Still, he seems like a very smart individual, and we'd be lucky to have him."

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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