Home Back Issues September 2011 Oregon City revitalizes despite mill closure

Oregon City revitalizes despite mill closure

| Print |  Email
Articles - September 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Article Index
Oregon City revitalizes despite mill closure
Page 2

 

0911_OregonCity_01
0911_OregonCity_02
0911_OregonCity_03
0911_OregonCity_04
Top to bottom: Oregon City's burgeoning downtown scenes: customer Sarah Ferguson tries on a hat at You Can Leave Your Hat On; the Wynona Studios storefront; a wedding cake from Wrightberry's Cakes and Cupcakes; Jan Wright from Wrightberry's Cakes and Cupcakes
// Photos by Alexandra Shyshkina

The bridge leading into downtown Oregon City is closed for repairs, and the city’s largest employer, the Blue Heron paper mill, is history.

So why are downtown boosters here so optimistic?

Lloyd Purdy, director of the nonprofit Main Street Oregon City, says 36 new businesses have opened downtown since the city started a revitalization effort in late 2008. True, another 15 have closed during that period, and large vacancies remain, but Purdy says a positive transformation is under way in this historic city of about 32,000 people. He even puts an optimistic spin on the February closure of the mill, which has dominated the area around Willamette Falls in various industrial forms since the 1830s: “We see it as a great opportunity to reclaim that property for a higher and better use.”

The shuttering of Blue Heron, the last remaining mill in the area, severs the city’s strong historic ties with the timber industry and the blue-collar mill jobs it provided. In an ironic twist, Purdy’s organization is promoting the new Oregon City as an affordable business location and shopping destination in a video titled “Blue Collar Creative,” with a hip-hop soundtrack and a montage of flashy urban shots, more steaming espresso drinks and hipsters behind computer monitors than blue-collar workers. The company that produced the video, Funnelbox Motion Picture Studio, is one of Oregon City’s most important employers in the post-mill era.

On a recent afternoon Funnelbox’s 35 or so youthful employees were clicking away at their machines, rushing to complete eight “deliverables” by the end of the month. Funnelbox has spun off a variety of companies since relocating from Portland to Oregon City, most recently a digital sign business called Flixeo and a 3D animation outfit called Clink. Clink gets its name from the former city jail in Funnelbox’s 1925 building, complete with a former drunk tank converted into a crash area for exhausted animators.

A few buildings to the north on Main Street, Jan Wright and her daughter Christi Ross were converting flour, butter and sugar into a mouth-watering variety of concoctions. Wright ran Wrightberry’s Cakes  and Cupcakes out of her home in Oregon City for 13 years, before signing onto a five-year lease here last October. She said business has never been brisker, between the $3.25 cupcakes, enjoyed by lawyers and jurors on break from the courthouse across the street, and more elaborate creations involving handmade sugar flowers and frosted likenesses of Jabba the Hut.

 



 

Comments   

 
Lloyd Purdy
0 #1 Welcome DowntownLloyd Purdy 2011-08-30 16:27:59
Visit www.bluecollarcreative.org to see the excitement and energy surrounding Downtown Oregon City.

A mill town in transition. For more than 160 years Oregon City has been a place that reflects Oregon’s roll up your sleeves work ethic. Call it what you want — throughput, results, tenacity, persistence and an unwillingness to surrender no matter how great the pressures are Oregon City exemplifies the creative, commercial and cultural spirit of innovation and entrepreneurism.

See You Downtown.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

I Know How You Feel

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Most smartphones come equipped with speech recognition systems like Siri or Cortana that are capable of understanding the human voice and putting words into actions. But what if smartphones could do more? What if smartphones could register feeling?


Read more...

Healthcare pullback

News
Thursday, November 20, 2014
112014-boehnercare-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Each month for Oregon Business, we assess factors that are shaping current capital market activity—and what they mean to investors. Here we take a look at two major developments regarding possible rollbacks of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Read more...

What I'm Reading

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Peter Lizotte at ACME Business Solutions and Roger Busse at Pacific Continental Bank share their favorite reads.


Read more...

Woman of Steel

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Tamara Lundgren tackles the challenges—without getting trampled.


Read more...

The Bookseller

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Everyone knows college is expensive, but a look at the numbers brings that into sharp — and painful — focus.


Read more...

OB Poll: Wineries and groceries

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

24-winethumbA majority of respondents agreed: Local vineyards should remain Oregon-owned and quality is the most important factor when determining where to eat or buy groceries.


Read more...

The short list: 5 hot coffee shops for entrepreneurs

Contributed Blogs
Friday, November 14, 2014

CupojoeBY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Oregon entrepreneurs reveal their favorite caffeine hangouts.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS