For the Public: Larry Burkhardt, Nevada County
Town where I live: Unincorporated Nevada County.
My job title: President/chief executive officer of the Nevada County Economic Resource Council.
What I do in my job: The work of the ERC is to serve as a facilitator and a catalyst to strengthen the community’s economy. My responsibilities include supporting the needs of primary employers so that they might grow stronger and create new jobs. I also work to attract targeted new employers into the area to diversify the economy and to provide employment opportunities for local residents.
Why my job is important to the public: My job supports one of the most important components of our community: our primary employers. Without the new money that comes from the sale of their products and services to customers outside of our community, our economy would fail.
The special skills and talents I bring to my job: With 10 years of economic development experience, I am one of seven certified economic developers employed in California. I have had experience in both the public and private sectors, having been a small business owner and having served 11 years as a city councilman and mayor.
The best part of my job is when: I am able to play a role in successfully addressing a client’s problem or need. A close second is watching members of the ERC Board of Directors get excited about what we are doing.
The part of my job that I like least is: Having to operate with extremely limited resources.
A day of work I’ll always remember was: Many years ago while working in a hospital, I was able to make a real difference for one of our patients. The patient had had a large portion of her mandible removed due to cancer, and had to use very expensive and customized adaptive dentures. They turned up missing and after an exhaustive search, the conclusion was that they must have inadvertently been taken out with the trash. I made arrangements with the trash hauler, followed the truck to the local landfill and had them dump the hospital’s waste in an area where I could sort through it. Although not a very pleasant job, I was quite lucky that day and did retrieve the patient’s dentures.
How I got my job: Upon being notified in Colorado that I was a finalist for the position, I was invited to a daylong process of oral and written exercises. I assumed that the organization would pay my travel costs associated with the interview. I was informed that they would not, but that I appeared to be a very strong candidate and should strongly considering making the trip. As we had grown to enjoy living indoors and I needed a job to continue doing so, Linda and I drove out, spent one day here, and immediately after the conclusion of the interview process, got back in the car and drove back. An hour after our return, I got a call informing me that the selection committee would be recommending my hiring to the full board of directors.
How long I’ve been working here: Although it’s hard for me to believe, I’ve been here more than five years now.
My dream job would be: I’m now too old to pitch in the majors, so it would have to be a film actor.
My family: My wife, Linda, is clinic director of Sierra Rehabilitation Center. Our daughter Corina is in school in Chico, and our son Nathan works in Auburn. My mother is in an assisted care home with Alzheimer’s.
My hobbies: Guitar, gardening, antique cars, cooking, reading American history, photography.
When I was a kid, I: Was very afflicted by asthma, which restricted my ability to participate in most physical activities, and limited opportunities for social development. As you would expect, this greatly interfered with my childhood dream of pitching for the Cincinnati Reds.
If money were no object, I would: Purchase a 1938 Packard, throw a top-of-the-line Taylor guitar in the back seat, and spend the summers driving to games at every major league baseball park. During the winters I would take flatpicking guitar lessons from Doc Watson.
My dream vacation: A bicycle tour of the countryside of southern France with plenty of time to sample local wines and cheeses, followed by a tour of northern Italy, based at a local cooking school.
If a movie were made of my life, I would be played by: Depending on how I feel on a particular day, candidates would be Raymond Burr, Kevin Klein, Greg Kanier, Buddy Hackett or Don Knotts.
The people who have made the biggest difference in my life: Linda, my wife of 25 years; our two children; my parents; my Franciscan seminary classmates and teachers; and an accountant friend who 11 years ago cajoled me into abandoning a bad employment situation and pursuing a career in economic development.
My heroes: I need frequent inspiration from many heroes, whom I consider to be persons who pursue a balanced life with passion, open to opportunities to broaden their horizons, contribute positively to their community, and address challenges with personal integrity and respect for themselves and others.
The best book I’ve read lately was: “Men at Work” by George Will. The book is ostensibly about the rhythms and mathematical relationships inherent in baseball, but on a broader level provides good insight into the discipline, focus and interrelationships that apply to life in general.
The soundtrack to my life would include these songs: Since my wife and I met as lead actors in a stage production of “Phantom of the Opera,” it would start with the overture from that musical and continue with “Someone to Watch Over Me,” Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice,” Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” “Orange Blossom Special,” and “Ultima.”
I like living in Nevada County because: I have the opportunity to be part of a dynamic community, and develop friendships with wonderful people while living a rural lifestyle.
“For the public” appears each Wednesday. To suggest a person to be profiled, call The Union newsroom at 273-9561.
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