The recent extended recession and economic slowdown has only heightened my commitment as your county commissioner to focus on job creation and our local economic development. As our county’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly above the state average we must look to innovative ideas to add jobs.
On April 24, 2014, the Cascade West Area Commission on Transportation which I Chair ranked 9 ConnectOregon-V infrastructure projects and the #1 ranked project was the $4.7 million Port of Toledo Boatworks Haulout project. This ranking was the very critical first step toward funding the haulout project which will redevelop the Port into the major repair and maintenance facility along the Washington, Oregon and northern California coast. It also will support the ever increasing economically important marine research sector of our local economy and will create over 150 family-wage jobs.
At the May 7, 2014 meeting of the 4 Area Commissions on Transportation (ACT) of Region 2 the Toledo Boatyard project was ranked 4th out of 39 projects. This high ranking was vital for success in funding the project.
At the statewide meeting held in Portland on June 11th funding for the Toledo project was recommended to the Oregon Transportation Commission, the final step in this process. Final approval is expected in July 2014.
I also now serve on the Lincoln County Economic Development and Alliance board and I have led an effort resulting in a sharper focus on job retention and job creation by that organization. Our county budget annually provides $100,000 in grant funds that are administered by this board and supplemented by additional money allocated by the commissioners. Last year I allocated money for the Olalla Center/Flowerree Community Center for development of that resource in Toledo.
Other recent projects funded include:
Family Promise of Lincoln County located in Lincoln City
Habitat for Humanity for housing in Siletz
South Lincoln Resources for low-income services in Waldport
Community Forest Association for a kiln project in Toledo
Seafood Consumer Center for Fish Trax in Newport
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) for a coastal discovery center in
Port of Alsea in Waldport
Lincoln City Cultural Center
Coastal Range Food Bank near Nashville in east Lincoln county
All these development projects are expected to help retain and create needed jobs in our county.
In addition to these projects which are directed at retaining and creating jobs I believe we need to do more to support jobs and economic development and I offer the following 4 concepts:
1. I want to allocate more funds for the Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) business management program available through the Oregon Coast Community College. This educational curriculum helps business owners refine their business and financial management skills. By providing more funds, this very effective set of courses becomes more affordable and allows more business owners the opportunity to learn how to better manage and grow their businesses. Better businesses means more jobs and a growing economy.
2. I am creating an program to merge business development with tourism. Once tourists come and visit our great county, we need to develop an environment of workshops and forums, events that will encourage people to stay, or return and bring businesses, families and more jobs to our communities. We can achieve this goal through cooperation of our chambers and other community associations and citizens.
3. The development of a coordinated effort to capitalize on the budding marine research industry in our county is a high priority. Oregon State University has announced a major expansion of their academic programs at the Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) with the potential to bring over 500 students to our area. NOAA, the Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC), OMSI’s coastal Discovery Center, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium in collaboration all will add to the growing marine research industry creating numerous new jobs and needed economic growth in our county.
4. We need to encourage greater use of the many small business lending programs available. One good example is the Microloan business program. This program provide loans to emerging businesses which do not qualify for traditional bank funding. The Micro Enterprise Loan program administered by the SBDC is another source of loans for new or emerging business. I also propose reactivating the four county Regional Investment Board which provided state economic development funds for emerging and new businesses looking to locate in our county.
These are four specific programs I believe would enhance the business and economic environment in our county resulting in more family wage jobs, healthier communities and a better county. More jobs for our county.