Friday, September 10, 2021
News & Notes
Greenman takes the executive director reins at WEA
   Gail Greenman joined the Westside Economic Alliance (WEA) team this week as the new executive director.
   WEA’s Board of Directors chose Greenman after an extensive executive search over the summer.
   “I’m excited to have Gail as our new executive director. After talking with her and seeing her rise through the interview process, I see her as a great leader for Westside Economic Alliance. She believes in collaboration, building relationships, and advancing the organization’s Westside voice," said WEA Board President Brantley Dettmer. 
   Greenman said, "WEA is a strong economic voice, representing the communities and businesses in the region. I am looking forward to working together with WEA members to make sure their voices are heard, and our region continues to be an example of great economic vitality."
   Previously, Greenman served as the lead federal public affairs professional at the Oregon Farm Bureau (OFB), where she cultivated relationships with Oregon’s congressional delegation.
   Congressman Kurt Schrader said, “Gail is a superb choice to serve as executive director of the Westside Economic Alliance. She has a proven record of engaging with bipartisan coalitions in seeking practical solutions to complex policy issues. Gail has demonstrated expertise, professionalism, and creativity in her 15 years of working with Oregon’s diverse Congressional delegation. The Westside Economic Alliance and its membership will find Gail to be a vital asset as the organization continues its important work providing its members with a common voice on local, regional, and state issues.”
   As the director of National Affairs for OFB, Greenman’s portfolio included transportation, infrastructure, tax, farm bill policy, rural education, energy, broadband, labor, and trade. She served on the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Advisory Committee, a steering committee member of the Harvesting Clean Energy Conference, as well as an appointed member of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) National 2018 Farm Bill Work Group, Friend of Farm Bureau Award Review Steering Committee, and Political Advocacy Working Group.
   Prior to joining OFB in 2006, Greenman worked in the federal education policy arena as the director of Government Affairs for the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools; director of Corporate Relations for the Federally Impacted Schools Educational Foundation; and a policy consultant for the National Council for Impacted Schools.
   Having been born in Georgetown and raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Greenman developed an early love for policy work.
   She earned her degree from Indiana University and currently resides in West Linn with her husband Joe and two daughters – Gabrielle (12) and Ava (10).
   Pamplin Media also did a story on Greenman with a few more details, including an interview with former executive director Pam Treece.
TriMet's new GM talks with Transportation Committee
   Sam Desue joined TriMet as its new general manager earlier this year, and he met virtually with WEA's Transportation Committee this week.
   TriMet's Tom Mills, the director of Planning and Policy, and JC Vannatta, the executive director of Public Affairs, also answered questions during the meeting.
   Desue spoke about the impact of the pandemic on ridership, saying it dropped to 50% of pre-COVID levels, but it was starting to make a comeback before Delta appeared.
   He predicts ridership should be back to pre-pandemic levels by 2026.
   The ridership decline impacts the agency's fare revenue.
   Desue said the agency has also experienced a decline in revenue from business taxes, but those are back at about 90% now.
   He said the other challenge the transit agency is facing is recruiting operators/bus drivers.
   The agency did not have layoffs, but due to retirements, it needs new drivers.
   TriMet is moving ahead with its plans to extend the MAX Red Line to Hillsboro; improve the tracks between Gateway and PDX; and open a new bus rapid transit (BRT) project next fall for the Division area.
   Desue said TriMet is continuing to test electric buses, and it is upgrading its Powell garage to accommodate charging stations and 50% more buses, including articulated buses for BRT.
   The new general manager said TriMet is continuing to reimagine its safety and security by looking at behavioral health and other resources.
   On the Westside, Desue said TriMet is looking to increase frequency on Line 20, which serves Barnes Road and Cedar Hills Boulevard, and on Line 76, serving Hall Boulevard and Greenburg Road.
   He said TriMet is also looking to expand frequency on bus routes between Tigard and Portland along Barbur Boulevard; on Line 52 serving Farmington Road and 185th; and on Line 57 serving South Hillsboro and Portland Community College.
   In Hillsboro, a new line is being considered serving Main Street and Baseline with service to Willow Creek near 185th.
   TrMet's staff is engaging on the conversations about tolling in the region.
   Desue did touch briefly on the Southwest Corridor, saying Metro President Lynn Peterson is considering when the region may be ready to talk about a transportation funding measure again.
   The transit agency is also looking at a future BRT line for the TV Highway corridor.
   Desue said TriMet is focusing on the customer by engaging the community on social equity and connecting people to opportunities in education, jobs, health, housing, and more.
Latest economic forecast still looks encouraging
   Oregon's Office of Economic Analysis team released its quarterly forecast for the state last week.
   The state economists are reporting jobs are at an all time high in the state.
   Household incomes are up and have been boosted from federal aid, which is driving up consumer spending.
   This in turn is driving demand on services, so businesses are looking to ramp up their staffing.
   The downside is the labor market is tight and constraining supply, which drives up prices as wages increase to attract workers.
   It's quite the cycle.
   At the same time, tax and lottery revenues for 2020 were so high, it has tripped the state's kicker refund into action at a sum of $1.9 billion or what will be an $850 credit for the average Oregon taxpayer.
   In their forecasts, the economists also recognize the Delta variant of the Coronavirus could change the future outlook.
   To dive deeper, turn to Mark McMullen and Josh Lehner's State Economic and Revenue Forecast.
Local jobs numbers concur with bright economic outlook
   Workforce Analyst/Economist Lynn Wallis reports Oregon added 20,000 jobs in July - 400 in Clackamas County and 1,000 in Washington County.
   Brandon Schrader, a workforce analyst, reports Washington County's unemployment rate dropped to 4.5% in July, which is less than half of what it was (9.2%) a year ago.
   He also said it's less than the historical average of 5.8%.
   Clackamas County's unemployment rate was 5.1% in July.
   Wallis said the two industries in Oregon with the biggest gains were professional and technical services, along with transportation, utilities, and warehousing.
   To read more, turn to Schrader's or Wallis' reports.
Lam Research to open new facility in Sherwood
   Lam Research is expanding its manufacturing footprint in Oregon by opening a new 45,000 square foot facility in Sherwood's industrial area, creating about 300 new jobs.
   The new site will supply tools to semiconductor manufacturers, which build the chips for electronic devices.
   It will enhance the ability to meet the increasing customer demand, as chip manufacturing ramps up globally.
   “We are excited to work with Lam Research as they expand into our city,” said Keith Mays, Mayor of Sherwood, Oregon. “Having a leading semiconductor manufacturing equipment company in Sherwood will create new high-quality jobs and bring significant economic impact to our community.”
   This will be Lam's fifth manufacturing site in the U.S. and the second in Oregon - the first is in Tualatin.
   The new site is expected to open in December.
   To learn more about possible job opportunities, turn to Lam's website.
Wilsonville okays urban renewal & expects $70 million bioscience investment
   The Wilsonville City Council recently approved the adoption of the Twist Bioscience Wilsonville Investment Now (WIN) Zone, with the expectations it will bring about a $70 million capital investment and create 200 new jobs in its first year of operation.
   What is a WIN Zone?
   It is a site-specific Urban Renewal Area for 4.4-acres at the Parkway Industry Center (26600 SW Parkway Dr.) in Wilsonville.
   This economic development agreement provides property-tax rebates, incentivizing new capital investment and family-wage jobs in the city.
   Twist Bioscience, which is making the large capital investment in Wilsonville, is a California-based biotech firm.
   Its work includes creating synthetic DNA tools to help their customers in industries such as healthcare, agriculture, data storage, and more - including supporting safe and effective research to combat the coronavirus.  
   The Wilsonville site is expected to open in 2022.
Perlo awarded 1st place in this year's Westside Golf Scramble
   WEA wants to thank all of the sponsors, participants, and volunteers of the annual Westside Golf Scramble.
   First place went to Team Perlo (Jeff Fischer, Patrick Goodman, Devin Koopman, and Doug Wirkkala), followed by Team Standard (Frank Aaron, Mike Morey, Trevan Nelson, and Scott Tumbleson) and Team Swire Coca~Cola/Jordan Ramis (Janelle Gago, Jeremy Hanson, Matthew Lowe, and Jason Wood).
   As organizations and companies start to prepare budgets for 2022, the WEA Golf Committee is asking them to consider sponsorship for next year.
   To see photos from the tournament, visit the WEA Facebook page.
Odds & Ends
  • Tigard is partnering with Worksource Oregon on a drive-thru hiring event on Wednesday (Sept. 15) at 10:00 a.m. There are 40 employers looking to hire. To learn more, visit the city's website.

  • The Willamette Water Supply Program (WWSP) has a business opportunity available. Subcontractors and suppliers will soon be hired to help construct a new water treatment plant. To learn more, WWSP has created a video.

  • Small businesses, Washington County has an update to its COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Learn more on the County's website.

  • The City of Forest Grove and ODOT are taking feedback on the TV Highway Corridor. Weigh in about safety there.

  • PDX is back on top and is being recognized by Travel & Leisure again as the best domestic airport in the U.S.

  • Welcome week is beginning in the City of Beaverton. Check its website to see what event looks good to you.

  • Happy 60th anniversary to our friends at the City of Tigard. You still look so young, but so much more mature.
Events coming up
Wed. 9/15 at 12:00 p.m. - The Land Use & Housing Committee will meet virtually with West Linn Mayor Jules Walters and with Hillsboro Project Manager Ryan Stee. Both will be talking about their cities' park and recreation planning. All members are welcome to attend. For more information, contact KC Reinhart.

Fri. 9/17 at 8:00 a.m. - a Virtual Forum with Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. To Register

Wed. 9/22 at 7:30 a.m. - The WEA Board of Directors will meet virtually.

Wed. 10/13 at 7:30 a.m. - The Transportation Committee will meet virtually. All members are welcome to attend. For more information, contact Gail Greenman.