As a follow up to the April 2023 full-house WEA forum “Collaborating for Successful Regional Growth”, the City of Sherwood made a presentation on August 10th to a joint meeting of the Government Relations and Land Use & Housing Committees. Over the course of the presentation, the case was made for WEA to advocate for expanded industrial land base for the growth of traded-sector, middle class jobs. It is a timely topic as Metro begins their work on the 2024 Urban Growth Report, setting the stage for Metro Council’s recommendation on the expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary in late 2024.

Sherwood described its success in recruiting traded-sector companies to its new industrial parks but cautioned that within 5 years they will run out of viable industrial land within their Urban Growth Boundary. Sherwood presented their Metro-funded Sherwood West Concept Plan, which would create a large new Technology/Innovation Park in the Sherwood-adjacent Urban Reserve. The city expressed excitement about their partnership with Metro on this process.

Joining Sherwood's City Manager, Community Development Director and Economic Development Manager was Jill Miles, formerly Senior Business Recruiter for Business Oregon and now with an Atlanta-based site selector. She provided some insight into regional challenges, including that national corporate site selectors know that Metro Portland lacks viable larger industrial sites leaving our region out of the running for major site searches.

This confirmed similar concerns expressed in the recent Oregon Semiconductor Competitive Report, Seizing Opportunity. Sherwood explained that the region is simply not competitive for most new manufacturing recruitment efforts compared to peer regions like Salt Lake City, and Nashville – who lead with strong aspirational approaches to economic development.

Committee members discussed the role WEA should play to help spearhead the conversation on the expansion the Urban Growth Boundary so the Westside can build a stronger, more inclusive middle class. The bottom-line message from presenters and committee members, alike, was clear: the Urban Growth Report and subsequent Urban Growth Boundary expansion process must be bold, aspirational and market driven. And WEA is well positioned to be a strong voice for our members throughout this process.