|| Print ||
|Monday, November 09, 2009|
The last time I visited Independence was on a cold morning three years ago, the day after Boise Cascade announced the closure of its veneer mill. The mayor and the city manager greeted me with coffee and optimism. When I returned recently, the optimism and coffee were still flowing.
The tiny city (2.3 square miles) on the west bank of the Willamette River has for the past three years been doggedly pushing on its economic development plans, and Mayor John McArdle and City Manager Greg Ellis seemed unbowed by the bad economy, job losses or high unemployment. The longtime mayor and Ellis were full-steam ahead on many fronts. “We’re not immune,” says the hard-charging McArdle. “We’re not Pollyanna. But it doesn’t pay dividends to say, ‘Woe is me.”’
Three years ago, the eight-screen movie theater had yet to open, the fate of the Boise site was unknown, the historic downtown struggled with vacancies, and the need for jobs was huge. Like many small, rural Oregon towns, the poverty levels were and are high.
In the ensuing years, the 850-seat cinema has opened and draws crowds from Monmouth, south Salem and Dallas, enough to help launch several new restaurants downtown: the Ragin’ River Steak Company, the Pink House Café and J. Bella’s.
When Boise closed after 43 years of operation, it took 29 good-paying jobs with benefits with it. The site was then bought by Oregon Alder for $4 million, which sold half the property to Forest River, a Dallas company that builds RVs and utility trailers. That operation opened a year ago, and employs about 100 workers, some of them transferred from Dallas. Oregon Alder was going to open a hard-wood mill, but that plan stalled when the housing industry crashed.
In 2007, the city won a Great Stride award from the Northwest Area Foundation for the “significant progress” it has made in reducing poverty long term. The foundation lauded the city for doing that by using tax incentives “to build stronger businesses with higher wages, such as those given to a cabinet company that expanded and in turn offered employees the potential of 50% wage increases from their starting salaries. Developing public/private partnerships, infrastructure projects, economic diversification, historic preservation, and tourism have all contributed to the city’s success.”
The city took the $100,000 award and used it to create a small-business incubator, which is scheduled to open in January in a storefront on Main Street with a half-time director.
There are more projects on the boards for Independence, including a new ball field. The 50-acre site was donated by Olsen Agriculture and the plan is to have six baseball fields and eight soccer fields completed by spring 2011.
The city just finished its vision plan for 2020. It’s an ambitious plan that calls for improving the historic downtown, finding more transportation options, provide more opportunities for youth, and increasing local living wage jobs. It's a town that is struggling with job loss, downtown vacancies and the bad economy, but it's taking action.
“One business in our community makes a difference,” says McArdle.
If you are tiny — especially if you are tiny — the house gets built one brick at a time.
Robin Doussard is Editor of Oregon Business.
|OHSU researchers work on AIDS vaccine|
|Lean in? Not Sabrina Parsons.|
|Oregon agriculture - not just a commodity|
|The cable guy|
|Outside the box|
|20,000 apply for 400 jobs at Ikea in Spain|
|Twitter names first female board member|
|U.S. fast food workers strike|
|WalMart pays legal fees for bribery probe|
|Google ramps up plan to make robots|
|Sales on Cyber Monday reach new heights|
|CNN plans major changes|
Produced by the Oregon Business marketing department
When the Portland-based manufacturing company Glass Alchemy, Ltd. was first nominated for an Oregon State University Austin Family Business Excellence in Family Business award in 2004, husband-and-wife team Henry Grimmett and Susan Webb-Grimmett, were honored and optimistic about their chances of winning.
Some employers have embraced the use of employment arbitration agreements as a way to manage and mitigate the rising costs, risks and liabilities associated with employment-related claims. Historically, employment arbitration agreements require employees to present employment-related claims, such as employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, harassment, or claims for wages or compensation to an arbitrator, in lieu of proceeding to court.
Produced by the Oregon Business marketing department
Boly:Welch was founded in 1986 based on a close connection between Diane Boly and Pat Welch. The two had worked together at another recruitment firm and shared certain core values: passion for their work, a sense of humor, a commitment to their community and a desire to create a healthy, nurturing work environment.
Dunn Carney will host its annual Ag Summit on Jan. 10, 2014 at the Holiday Inn in Wilsonville, OR. We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Sherri Noxel, Director of the Austin Family Business Program at Oregon State University College of Business as our Keynote speaker.
The Naa Amerley Palm Education ("NAPE") Foundation recently awarded two more Lane Powell/Lee Nusich Scholarships to deserving students attending institutions of higher learning in Ghana. Including the most recent recipients, a total of 48 scholarships have been awarded to Ghanaian university students since the scholarship foundation started in January 2009.
Unitus Community Credit Union, a Portland-based credit union with more than 80,000 members, has announced the addition of Brian Alfano as Vice President of Member Services. Alfano will provide strategic leadership over Unitus’ member experience to ensure consistency across delivery channels, including branch operations, member support, and products and services.