In her 10 years at the helm of the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce, Debbie Pedro saw a number of her personal goals completed. From increasing membership to placing the chamber into good financial standing, Pedro is now ready to tackle new economic goals, expanding her experience to a regional area.
Pedro starts a new chapter in her life with the Columbia Development Authority on Thursday, Jan. 3.
“I was with the chamber for 18 years, 10 of those as director,” said Pedro. “When I took over as director, the chamber had 240 members. It now has 440 members. Ten years ago, we were worried about paying the electric bill and keeping the lights on. Now, the chamber is in great shape financially and I know it will continue to prosper and grow.”
In her duties with the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce, Pedro was always interested in the arena of economic development. When the opportunity to join Gregory Smith and Company and the Columbia Development Authority arose, Pedro said the decision was difficult, but one she could not pass up.
“I have enjoyed my time with the chamber and it was tough deciding to leave,” she said. “I saw some things I could do on a regional basis with the new position and with the chamber being in good hands, I decided it was time to make a change.”
“The Columbia Development Authority and I are lucky to have Debbie join the team,” said Smith, project manager, who is also state representative for District 57. “She brings to the job a wealth of knowledge of the area and the people associated with the Umatilla Depot. Debbie is someone who will jump into the job immediately.”
Pedro knows the area and people well. Born in Condon and graduating from Hood River High School, Pedro and her husband, Ed, spent 20 years in Hermiston in the custom farming business.
“I have great memories of Ed and I and our two kids cutting and baling alfalfa fields,” she said.
When the family decided to leave the agriculture business, Pedro owned and operated Victorian Gardens, a home décor store in Hermiston for five years. She then went to work for the chamber, staying a total of 18 years.
“While with the chamber, I was able to work with the state chamber and served on the board for the organization including president of the state chamber,” said Pedro. “With Rep. Smith’s assistance, we were also able to begin the process of purchasing property so the Hermiston Chamber and business center will have a home of its own.”
The Hermiston Chamber is currently in the process of finding Pedro’s successor..
“The marketing and communications manager (Kelly Schwirse) does a great job and the chamber’s chair, Paul Keeler, is a great leader,” Pedro said. “They have a fantastic board of directors.”
Looking at moving into her new office and starting her new duties, Pedro said new challenges and opportunities are ahead.
“This is an exciting time for me,” she said.