FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, January 17, 2017
For information contact Wendy Isenhart, Board Chair, NCWEDD 509-670-5728

The NCW Economic Development District Hires New Executive Director

WENATCHEE, WA – The North Central Washington Economic Development District welcomes Karen Francis-McWhite, their new Executive Director.

Karen is excited to return to Central Washington, bringing with her a passion for supporting all economic stakeholders, from students, workers and micro-entrepreneurs to large employers, investors and anchor institutions.

After running a federally-funded program at Central Washington University, Karen retrained as a lawyer at Michigan State University, and subsequently worked with B Lab, a nonprofit supporting socially and environmentally responsible for-profit businesses. With B Lab, Karen spent the last few years designing and launching business education, marketing and technical assistance programs to support small and medium enterprises in New York City and Colorado.

In addition to working with stakeholders across the EDD community to advance inclusive and sustainable economic development, Karen looks forward to training to backpack the Enchantments, Nordic skiing in the Methow, completing a wine tasting tour of the wineries in our region, and eventually building a straw bale homestead for her, her daughter and their extended family.

About the NCW EDD

The North Central Washington Economic Development District is an organization whose greatest achievement is the convening of informed and innovative leaders of Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties for a structured conversation about our regional economy. Overall, NCWEDD provided the information, technical assistance and grant management support that drew $5 million in foreign direct investment and the retention or creation of 167 jobs for a 514% return on investment of the $11,800 in NCWEDD member dues in their 2015-2016 fiscal year.



In partnership with Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, NCWEDD is pleased to provide an update on the Route 97 Touring Program.

The re-development of was the first initiative in the digital strategy for Route 97. We recently re-launched the site and added a BLOG with the new digital team at TOTA who will be working over the coming year on creating awareness and driving traffic to the site. The printed map guide was released in time for the May long weekend and poster size maps distributed to Visitor Centres in the region. The social media hub is powered by Hashtagio which allows key messages to be linked from the tiles as well as draw in social media feeds from several sources. The digital strategy includes new content by season and sector, contesting, Google Ad Pay-Per-Click campaign, social media content and digital advertising.

Join us in getting the message out about the touring route and the road trips that make up the uniqueness of the Interior Cascades that encompasses the entire Thompson Okanagan Region and North Central Washington which include more than just the Highway 97 main artery.

As a stakeholder in the Interior Cascades area of Route 97 we invite you to be part of the program by:

  • Hyperlinking to Route 97 from the footer of your website: download PNG logo file and link to
  • Share your favorite pages from the website or social media channels
  • Post key events from your community, business or organization for FREE at
  • Distribute the Route 97 Map Guides (contact to request guides)
  • Partner in a cooperative advertising opportunity in digital or digital/print combo (see information below)
  • Provide feedback on the website – we will be developing new sections over the next year as well
  • Share your imagery for use on the website, social media, Blog, etc.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (We’ll follow you back)

Contact Simone at TOTA for more information on the Route 97 initiative and let’s work together to showcase this amazing place!

Business Program Information

Business Contract

Community Program Information

Community Contract

Simone Carlysle-Smith
Industry and Community Development Specialist
Tel: 250.860.5999 Ext. 214