Staff Profile: Diana Morelli-Klima

Monday, November 19, 2018

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How long have you lived in Skagit County?

I live in King County, but I have made the 120 mile round-trip since 2004.  It’s a beautiful drive, enhanced by years of “books on tape.”

What is your favorite thing to do or eat?

I love to read, fish, teach, exercise, cook, eat good food and spend quality time with my family.

What can you suggest for someone new or familiar to Skagit County to try?

Meet the warm-hearted, engaged people of Skagit and participate in the community.

What were you doing before you started working for EDASC?

I’ve been teaching on the college level since the age of nineteen (Spanish, English & Linguistics).  In 1984, I founded my own business consulting firm (Productive Management Systems).

Why is economic development important for you?

Based on EDASC’s value proposition, “we are innovators, educators, business leaders and community champions…for a prosperous Skagit County.”  The primary objectives of the Latino Business Retention & Expansion Program mirrors the outcomes of EDASC’s strategic plan in that:

  • The major role of the Latino Business Retention and Expansion Program (LBRE) provides customized, bi-lingual business counseling to Latino businesses. [Making Skagit Work]
  • In marketing the LBRE Program, it is essential to maintain a highly visible community profile through promotions and community activities in order to assure program development, expansion and on-going funding. [Building our Future]
  • It is essential to facilitate an activated Latino networking and referral base (i.e. Spanish speaking attorneys, accountants, educators, community leaders), thus providing visibility and enabling access to collaborative educational opportunities for EDASC and our community. [Advancing Skagit County]

What drew you to work in economic development?

My mission in life is to help others reach their full potential, live in a healthy environment and become productive members of a better world.  As a result, I have co-founded two very successful long-term projects.  One is the Latino Leadership Initiative, now coordinating with Leadership Skagit, which seeks to empower young Latinos to put them on a path to become strong community participants and to cherish the history of their origins in order to surmount and vanquish the challenges they must overcome to become a great person, a great leader.

Also, in collaboration with the Northwest Agriculture Business Center and Skagit Valley College, EDASC has held a Basic and Intermediate Computer Course for Latinos.  Thirty-six students graduated this year's course, which was held at Skagit Valley College from April 7 to May 26.  The instruction was in Spanish, providing a solid foundation in fundamental computer skills within the context of native linguistic competency, with the computer language in English.  The instructors, Gilberto Estrada, and his Assistant, Sandra Ruiz, have twenty-five years of experience and mentoring expertise between them.  In the student evaluations, the instructors received a rating of 9.9 on a 10 point scale.

What have you learned about EDASC or the county that has surprised you?

Over half of Latino businesses fail in the first year due to limited collateral, poor credit or no credit history, or a lack of understanding of American business rules and processes.  But with the right advice, these businesses thrive.

What successes have you seen in Skagit County?

The Latino Business Retention and Expansion Program was created by EDASC in 2004 to capitalize on the economic potential of Latino entrepreneurs.  We offer free one-on-one business counseling and classes in Spanish—for start-ups and business expansion.

In the last decade, this program has assisted entrepreneurs secure almost $3 million in loans in a variety of business and services—like a beauty salon, three restaurants, a bi-lingual newspaper, a childcare center, a health-care facility, and more.

The LBRE program is the only one of its kind to find long-term success in the State of Washington.  Our clients return year after year with their families and friends, because they trust that we will continue to help them not only survive but also thrive!



Category: Staff Profile, Latinos