Playing a Role in Eugene’s Economic Development

Leigh Anne Hogue Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce

Recently, we reached out to Leigh Anne Hogue to see what’s going on in this alumni’s professional life. Turns out there is a lot! Leigh Anne is the Director of Economic Development for the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce where she welcomes the challenges in her diverse position. Leigh Anne graduated in 2014 with a masters in Community and Regional Planning at the University of Oregon.

Leigh Anne leads the Chamber’s economic development efforts include running a regional business retention and expansion program focused on helping local businesses stay and grow in the region; supports the business startup scene in the Willamette Valley through the Willamette Angel Conference; provides assistance with economic development activities in downtown Eugene; and is working to improve the business climate in Eugene through deep dives into specific industry sectors such as advanced manufacturing.

“It’s hard to believe, but that list barely scratches the surface of what I get to do in my position.” says Leigh Anne.  “It’s quite exciting to work in the field of economic development…you really never know what you might be working on tomorrow!”

When asked about a memorable day in her position, Leigh Anne had a hard time trying to nail it down to one day and instead shared a string of unforgettable days through her work with a group of local manufacturers. “Finding a skilled workforce in this industry is the top issue regionally, and because of this, I’ve been doing a lot of work with local high schools to connect students to local manufacturers.” Leigh Anne says it’s been unforgettable to see the manufacturing industry work together to engage high school students, and likewise, it’s been unforgettable to see students engage with manufacturers. “It’s very fulfilling both professionally and personally to play a small part in improving the future of both the industry and the students.”

Offering up some sound advice to anyone entering the economic development field, Leigh Anne recommends learning as much as you can from others who are in the field. “Find yourself a great mentor…or three….and ask them lots of questions!” She also advocated to take on a project or a task even if you are not 100% sure. ”I’ve learned that economic development professionals look out for each other and are more than willing to help.” she said.

Leigh Anne credits her CSC/Community Planning Workshop (CPW) experience as hands down the best thing that prepared her the most for her current position in economic development. “The skills learned – project scoping, project management, meeting facilitation, technical writing, interviewing, data analysis, and the list goes on and on – directly transfer to my career.” Leigh Anne said. “I wouldn’t have been qualified for the position I have now and wouldn’t be able to complete my job responsibilities every day without the skills and experienced I gained through the CSC and CPW.”

Leigh Anne belongs to the Oregon Economic Development Association, International Economic Development Council, and America Planning Association. To keep up with this busy alumnist, Leigh Anne can be found online at

The Lone Park Planner

Steve Rafuse Municipality of Anchorage

Curious as to where some of our CPW Alum have journeyed to, I decided to look up Steve Rafuse and see how his Alaskan life was going. Steve is a 2013 Community and Regional Planning graduate from the Planning, Public Policy, Management department at the University of Oregon. Having grown up in northern Virginia, Steve now works and plays in Anchorage, Alaska. He landed this opportunity right after graduation for the Municipality of Anchorage, who oversees an annual $5-$15 million budget in planning and capital improvements projects.  As the lone Park Planner, Steve works with public involvement and master planning for the department.

During his time at the Community Service Center, Steve was first a student with the CPW-Community Planning Workshop (2011-2012) program and then worked as a CPW GTF and Project Manager (2012-2013). Steve believes his experiences as both a student and project manager has been invaluable to his career. “The projects I worked on gave me valuable professional experience and a comfortable space to learn from so that when entering the professional world, I was confident and steps ahead of my peers”, said Steve.

Steve recommends that if you are just starting a job, go with the flow and don’t try to rock the boat. Most public service work requires building trust and developing relationships. “Get to know the lay of the land and save your battles for when it really counts”, he says.

Another thing Steve recommends students must do while in the Community Planning Workshop? “Get the chance to ski with Bob Parker, CPW Program Director. He rips!”

Steve specializes in environmental and natural resource planning, project management and public engagement. Inspired by Anchorage’s unique balance of nature and urban environment, Steve enjoys the endless possibilities for year round recreation available right out his backdoor.

Feel free to check out the Anchorage Parks and Recreation webpage at