More than 160 local business leaders, elected officials and other community members met Thursday morning, Aug. 26 at a breakfast forum co-sponsored by the Westside Economic Alliance and the Clackamas County Business Alliance to hear Metro COO Michael Jordan discuss his recommendations for a Community Investment Strategy and answer questions about employment and population growth in the region.
Jordan noted that there have been some challenges in implementing the 2040 Growth Concept, the region’s growth management plan adopted in 1995 that focuses population and employment growth in designated town centers, regional centers, transportation corridors and employment areas. He noted that having the plan is not sufficient and that there have been significant challenges to achieving new development, much of which is due to insufficient or poorly coordinated public funding to pay for the sewers, roads, sidewalks and other public structures that are essential for development to occur.
Jordan emphasized the need for greater efficiency and more strategic use of existing public funding and policies to achieve greatest returns on private investment in redeveloping existing communities. He encouraged attendees to help the region identify those public investments that the market is most likely to respond to with enhanced private development.
Participants were encouraged to submit written questions which were posed by WEA board chair Jonae Armstrong. In the course of his presentation, Jordan discussed some recommended expansions of the urban growth boundary near Hillsboro for both new residences and large-lot industrial employment, based on the preparedness of the city to serve those areas. One of the questions related to whether UGB expansions proposed in Washington County might impede job growth in Clackamas County and siphon limited regional resources away from the east side of the region. Jordan noted that it is important to focus public resources in areas where it will achieve the greatest results in terms of new development to serve growth and advised against spreading resources too thin across the region. “We don’t have enough money to be ineffective any more,” he said.
Another question posed was, “How do we focus on improving our road system? Transit is important, but how do we get the fundamentals done?” Jordan noted that the recently adopted Regional Transportation Plan, which provides for a wide range of projects across multiple modes of transportation over the next 25 years, includes many new road projects, not all of which are funded at this point. Jordan stressed the need to secure additional money for essential transportation projects in order to support continued economic growth.
There was not enough time to address all of the written questions submitted. Metro intends to provide written responses to all of the questions submitted in a timely fashion and will post those questions and answers on this newsfeed in the coming weeks.