Monthly News & Updates

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Welcome to 2024. Let's get to work.

It's hard to believe we are already rounding the corner on the end of 2024. We've hosted two committee meetings, our Annual Legislative Reception, a Board of Directors meeting and navigated the winter ice storm like the rest of the region.

But that's not all, we have been busy getting our March 14 Policy Conference ready to launch. One of the limitations of our forums is that we only have a one-hour block of time to try to have robust and complex policy conversations. This one-half day conference will provide us a chance to dig a little deeper. Registration will open next week with early registration pricing for members and non-members. We've worked hard to bring together our region's best and brightest and will roll out our panel topics and speakers soon.

I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to reflect on this week's Annual Legislative Reception. With only an hour of programming and ten legislators joining us for this in-person conversation, we had to move quickly through topics which could each have taken the full hour. My overall reflection is that we have a caucus of legislators who are committed to their constituents. And in our role as convener, it was a terrific opportunity for WEA to expose legislators to information we think they need to make decisions that will benefit our private, public and non-profit sector members. Top among those was the reminder that economic development investments pay long-term dividends for our communities: literally and figuratively.

If we care about the health of our community members, if we value safe and reliable transportation, if we believe that our children should have access to world class education, then ensuring we have a robust and diverse tax base is essential. In order to pay for all the programs that Oregon values, we need to provide incentives for businesses to locate here, stay here, hire here and spend here. We have limited economic development financing tools, and as legislators head into their short session, and then into interim assignments to set the stage for the 2025 session, WEA will be working to provide information and education to help then make decisions that will have long-term benefits for our communities.

NOTE: We wanted to be able to include a write up of our Legislative Reception in this first newsletter of 2024. Moving ahead, we will publish every other Tuesday with an event newsletter on the alternating weeks.

Upcoming Events

Reminder: New Day/Time for Land Use and Housing Committee

Reminder that Land Use and Housing (LUH) Committee has changed the day of the week and time. LUH and Transportation committees meet on alternating months, always on the first Thursday from 7:30 - 9am.

We are working to provide consistency in our meeting schedules - as well we continue to encourage in person meetings. If you have joined us in person for a committee you know that in addition to the robust conversations that happen around the table, there are important chats that occur before and after a committee meeting.

SAVE THE DATE: Policy Conference

Early registration opens Tuesday January 29.

Our Committee Meetings Are Hybrid

Land Use & Housing

Thursday, February 1st

7:30 - 9am

at 3J and via Zoom

Topic: Industrial Land Supply and Readiness

Speaker: Bret Marchant, Director of Data and Research at GPI

Government Relations

Thursday, February 8

7:30 - 9am

at TVF&R and via Zoom

Topic: Legislative & ballot measure updates from PCC, Clean Water Services, TriMet and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue and Clackamas County.

Click here to sign up for committee notifications.

Save the Date

Monday July 29

The Reserve Vineyard and Golf Club

News & Notes

2024 Legislative Reception

On Tuesday January 23 ten legislators from across the metropolitan and westside region sat down with WEA Executive Director to talk about infrastructure, transportation, economic development and the 2024 legislative session.

The conversation was framed by the opening question asking legislators to share what comes to mind when they hear the term "Infrastructure." The answers were wide ranging from roads and bridges to transportation systems to the human body from one of the medical doctors on the panel. With the legislators, we emphasized that infrastructure encompasses a much broader swath of public assets including: roads, bridges, road safety, water, sewer, broadband, electricity, gas, recreational, resilience, clean energy, public transportation, fleet electrification, environmental remediation, airports, ports and waterways for commerce, passenger and freight rail.

The panel then turned to funding sources for transportation which provided Representative Susan McLain the opportunity to share some innovative approaches being used around the country, a topic that will be discussed in greater depth at the March 14 Policy Conference.

Legislators had the opportunity to weigh in on the "last-dollar-in" ask being made by Hillsboro Hops for the new stadium being required by Major League Baseball. The conversation was pegged to data that shows the benefits of youth sports for physical, social and mental health as well as the broader understanding that economic development investments come in many shapes and sizes and that it is the community that ultimately benefits from these investments.

This annual pre-legislative session forum is presented annually by Legacy Health with event support from Intel and NW Natural Gas.

Oregon State Senators Janeen Sollman (far left), Elizabeth Steiner and Kate Lieber with State Representative Ben Bowman grabbed a post-forum selfie with Executive Director Elizabeth Mazzara Myers.

Wilsonville goes to the ballot

On January 18, Wilsonville City Council adopted a resolution that asks voters to consider whether Urban Renewal should be used by the City as a funding mechanism to implement many of the high-priority infrastructure improvements outlined in the 2019 Wilsonville Town Center Plan.

The Town Center Plan guides the community’s vision for a walkable, vibrant mixed-use cultural and commercial district. Placing this advisory vote on the ballot was the recommendation of the City’s volunteer Urban Renewal Task Force, which was convened to consider the feasibility of establishing a Town Center Urban Renewal Area.

This advisory vote will appear on the ballot received by registered voters in Wilsonville for the May 21 primary election.

Virtual Conversation with Senator Sollman

Join Senator Sollman for a virtual Community Conversation Thursday, February 1 from 6 - 7:00PM. 

This is an opportunity for community members to bring questions and share your thoughts before the upcoming legislative session.

Sollman represents Oregon's 15th Senate District which includes Forest Grove, Cornelius, Hillsboro, Rock Creek.

Register Here.

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