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|Articles - October 2011|
|Thursday, September 22, 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.”
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY DAN COOK | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
A real-estate developer and a Lithia Motors executive aim to revamp the city's forlorn downtown.
Sunday, February 15, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
As the investigation against the governor moves forward, those of us in the news business should reflect on our own potential for subverting the democratic process.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
Researchers in a multitude of disciplines are searching for ways to soak up excess carbon dioxide, the compound that contributes to global warming.
Monday, February 23, 2015
Yeah, we know: Oregonians are way too cool for umbrellas. But today’s stylish, high-tech models will soften the resistance of the most rain hardened.
Thursday, January 08, 2015
BY CAMBIA HEALTH SOLUTIONS & OREGON BUSINESS COUNCIL | OP-ED
Businesses have a significant stake in the health of Oregonians. In fact, we cannot succeed without it. By committing to using our companies as levers for good health, we invest in our people, our business, our quality of life and our economy.
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY BRIAN LIBBY
Matt French opens up South Waterfront.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
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