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SEDCOR Board Tackles Top Economic Development Opportunities

Wednesday, May 11, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Elizabeth Peters
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The SEDCOR Board of Directors descended on the Chemeketa Center for Business and Industry for its spring meeting. The traditional gathering included a report from SEDCOR President Chad Freeman that highlighted the newly formatted 2015 Annual Report; a successful Ag Breakfast in February; and plans for ENVISION 2016, the much anticipated corporate dinner with an executive from Google Inc.

Less than traditional, however, was the unique collaborative session held after lunch. The board divided itself into three task force groups: member engagement, rural infrastructure, and building inventory. Directors Randy Stockdale, Foundation Director at Silverton Health, Polk County Commissioner Craig Pope, and Mark Hoyt, Partner at Sherman Sherman Johnnie & Hoyt LLP led the three teams. Board members engaged in lively discussion.

Supporting economic development in the region

Stockdale’s focus was on growing support for economic development in the region through membership and future leader development. “I was personally thrilled with how many wanted to participate in the membership discussion and the enthusiasm they displayed,” stated Stockdale. “Membership dues help pay the bills, but – sometimes more importantly – the number of businesses supporting the organization speaks to the influence and impact SEDCOR can have.”

The membership engagement task force came up with a list of objectives, then met in April to set goals, time frames, and specific assignments geared toward increasing dues paying membership, further inspiring current member engagement, and achieving greater exposure to future board members.

Developing infrastructure for rural employers

The rural infrastructure task force sought to bring the needs of the region’s business infrastructure to the front of our discussion platform. “It is essential that we have an occasional conversation about infrastructure priorities that would support the economic development mission of our members,” said Commissioner Pope.

He noted that greater understanding of partners is needed for the next step. “We agreed that the members have some pretty big goals to meet in infrastructure barriers,” he said. “Though we jokingly suggested we were planning to take on rail and the PUC, we agreed that those systems, along with Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are the most significant bureaucracies that we need to better understand, and to help our members better understand, in the future.”

Rural infrastructure task force members discussed whether or not workforce should be considered an infrastructure element alongside roads, bridges, airports, rail systems, water, gas, and electricity. The Commissioner hopes that his task force will engage in further conversations on this in the near future.

The Commissioner highlighted the fact that all of these elements, and more, are part of SEDCOR’s mission to bring jobs and wealth to the Mid-Willamette Valley. “I believe we should encourage a more aggressive membership approach toward identifying infrastructure weaknesses and potential solutions that will benefit all economic activity in the region.”

Bolstering inventory of buildings

Hoyt's team plans on bringing industry and government stakeholders together to explore how to make streamlined approvals a reality. “Our building inventory is so low, and the time to entitlements can be so long and unpredictable, we will create new opportunities for expansion of existing business and location of new business if we can provide “near shovel ready sites” or at least definitive reliable timelines for project approvals.”

Hoyt's biggest takeaway was the importance of SEDCOR's role as a facilitator between industry and government as they recognize the necessity to ensure that the region is not only attractive to new business, but also friendly to existing businesses. “Both sides are willing to think creatively on how to approach the situation and look for unique ways to make our market more attractive.  By facilitating discussions between the two, SEDCOR furthers its mission of supporting business and development in our community. “

“I am continually impressed by the creativity, energy and commitment Chad and the SEDCOR staff show in pursuing, cultivating and enhancing economic development in our region,” said Hoyt. “Their recent efforts to leverage the board’s talents and insight to further their work is making the organization more effective and creating opportunities like this where SEDCOR can have a lasting and significant impact on our region and its economic well being.”

 


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