|Vernonia stakes future on new school||| Print ||
|Articles - October 2011|
Page 10 of 15
Losing even 10 local jobs would be a blow to a town where it’s estimated that as many as 90% of its working residents leave each day to make the 45-minute drive for jobs in Beaverton, Hillsboro or Portland, dropping their shopping dollars in those cities instead of in Vernonia. “In reality, we are a bedroom community,” says Heidi Brown of Grey Dawn Gallery, which opened in 2000; Heidi and Dan’s two children are fourth-generation Vernonians. “[Commuters] get tired of the drive and move back out. And we’re not a cheap place to live.”
“When I look at [the future] right now, I don’t see how people can ‘evacuate’ the town every day if gas is $4 to $5 a gallon,” says Curtis, who transferred his eighth-grader to a Beaverton school after the flood. “The school might attract a few people, but you’ve got to supply jobs out here.”
One bit of progress is the recently approved rezoning of 27 acres of land owned by Tim and Michelle Bero from forest to light industrial; the land is adjacent to the runway at Vernonia Municipal Airport, outside the city’s growth boundary.
Tim Bero, a plainspoken businessman who is on the economic development committee, estimates he spent a quarter of a million dollars to get his property rezoned after a protracted battle. He wants to attract companies from Vernonia along with new industries to the airport. His goal is to create at least 30 jobs and he’s giving it five years, even though “my wife is fed up.” The Beros own Technetwork and TNW Firearms, a gun reproduction business with $2 million in revenue. They moved to Vernonia 20 years ago after Bero closed his Silicon Valley robotics company. They also transferred their children out of the school district.
But Bero still has fight in him despite the costly rezoning fight, and asks the ubiquitous question: “We are living in the carcass of what the town was supposed to be. So what do we do to fix that?”
Bero is betting on bringing in business because he doesn’t believe the answer is tourism: “The weather sucks.” Randy Parrow disagrees: “Tourism is all we have to offer.” Scott Laird sees diversity as the key: “Little things make a big difference in a small town. So economic recovery will be small things that happen in small ways.”
“A lot of our internal unrest is fear,” says Dan Brown, pointing out that “we can’t even afford to run the street sweeper, and we’re down to two police officers.”
“The one thing that everyone agrees on is the school,” he says. “This school is a great beacon of hope.”
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Oregon Business magazine's 5th annual
100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
From Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute: OTRADI today announced its plans to open and operate a 13,000 square-foot multi-tenant bioscience complex in the Willamette Wharf building at 4640 SW Macadam Avenue. Slated to be complete in spring 2013, the OTRADI Bioscience Incubator (OBI) will house up to six companies.
MEDIAmerica, publisher of Oregon Business and Oregon Home magazines, announces a new retail website: HalfOffOregon.com. The website offers lodging, dining, recreation and many other items at half off their regular cost.
As you probably know by now, The Vernon Company is a national leader in the promotional products industry with annual sales of over $60 million. We are a family owned business, led by the fourth generation of the Vernon family.