Local Economic Development Advocate Honored in STEDI Meeting


We Love Rainier’s George Johnson presented George Sharp with a certificate of appreciation at the Nov. 19 South Thurston Economic Development Initiative (STEDI) meeting for his help and inspiration, which ultimately spawned the “We Love Rainier WA” group’s creation.

Sharp, the rural program manager for the Thurston Economic Development Council Center for Business and Innovation, was also a nominee in two categories for the 2021 Thurston County Tourism Awards.

“Sharp has been the driving force behind many successful projects in Rainier,’’ stated a news release. “He has supported and encouraged the Senior Center of Rainier, as well as the city of Rainier to write for grants to help fund major projects here.”

The release stated the Senior Center of Rainier and the Rainier Emergency Food Center received funds that helped them survive the pandemic lockdown, thanks to Sharp’s involvement.

“We wouldn’t have made it through these lockdowns without his guidance,” stated the release.

Sharp has helped with the acquisition of hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant funds for the Senior Center of Rainier, Rainier Emergency Food Center, the city of Rainier and businesses in the area. Some of the funding he helped secure includes $17,500 in grants for the Senior Center of Rainier, $12,500 for the Rainier Emergency Food Center, $860,000 for rural areas through Thurston Strong grants, and $90,000 for Rainier businesses. Sharp also helped secure $30,000 in 2020, $319,000 in 2021 and $319,000 in 2022 for the city of Rainier.

“George brings people and groups together,” the release stated. “They build their own teams to get things done in South Puget Sound. He’s behind the economic development of many small communities in our area (including) Bucoda, Rainier, Tenino, Rochester, Grand Mound and Yelm.”