After 21 years as the director of the Washington Economic Development Group, Ed Raber said he plans to leave the position at the end of March to pursue a position in Dubuque.
Last week, Raber told the board he had accepted the position of vice president with the Greater Dubuque Development Corp.
“I’m looking forward to being part of that team and working on probably a number of very challenging things that they have scoped out and would like to have as the next project,” he said.
Raber believes that the Washington board will post for another director soon. He said that he provided the board members with a framework and some contacts within the industry.
“We weren’t necessarily out looking for that, but it happened to line up with the window of time I had that a really excellent by national standards organization was looking for someone with my background,” Raber said.
This will be the third time Raber has lived in Dubuque. He first moved to the town with his family when he was attending middle school. He moved back for his first job after graduating from college.
Raber started with the Washington economic organization in 1996. He remembers his first days on the job being the men’s golf outing.
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When he was first hired, Raber served double duty as its director as well as the Chamber of Commerce director.
After about a year, Raber encouraged the chamber to hire Susan Wellington as the chamber director. After that, he was able to focus all his attention on economic development in Washington County.
“I think the No. 1 thing people think I do is attract businesses that aren’t from here to come here,” Raber said. “That happens so very rarely. Really the focus is on how do we work with our existing businesses that are here and how do we potentially find businesses currently doing business in Washington County that have a reason for being here.”
Over the two decades he has worked in Washington County, Raber said he is most proud of helping businesses expand. He said Engineered Building Design has built another plant, and companies such as ACH Foam Technologies have doubled in size.
He also said he is proud of the development of the Iowa Renewable Energy biodiesel plant in Washington.
He noted getting the Washington County Riverboat Foundation off the ground was “a labor of love.”