The economic growth planning goals of both the previous Enterprise City Administrator Michele Young and current administrator Lacey McQuead received a boost and a powerful partner.
Enterprise has received a grant that covers the cost of a consultant from Johnson Economics to help them bring comprehensive land use plans and public facility plans up to date. No specific amount for the grant has been shared.
Young had applied for the grant before she retired.
“It’s fully funded,” said McQuead. “I think this would be a really good thing right now.”
More good news.
Wallowa County Commissioners voted Sept. 17 to create a Wallowa County Economic Development Advisory Committee — an idea put forward by the late commissioner-elect Bruce Dunn based on his success with the Wallowa County Natural Resource Advisory Committee.
This means the county and cities will benefit from a committee of local professionals collaborating to create a “to do” list. The committee can seek the input of dozens of governmental entities, agencies, experts and nonprofits on how to tackle items on the list and advise the county on how best to support projects.
The information gathered can also be used by other groups or agencies beyond the board of commissioners.
The collaborative work that can be done by such a committee was something that was lacking when economic development studies were completed in the past.
For instance, neither McQuead nor County Commissioner Susan Roberts could put their finger on a project the city and county had worked together on after a 2009 study and goal-setting.
The study was helpful in that several of the early goals outlined were met by the county, which was involved in the early stages of development that led to the establishment of Wallowa Integrated Biomass; preserved the WURA rail line; and worked to preserve the moraines.
The 2009 analysis suggested that Enterprise would benefit from completing several specific projects:
• Working with educational institutions to position the city and region as a center for technical training and education.
• The development of high speed Internet.
• Evaluation of opportunities for a Main Street Program.
• Creation of a Wallowa County Brand Center store for businesses to market their branded products and services.
• Securing grant funding for an interpretive center downtown.
• Identifying and zoning developable land for commercial and industrial use.
• Designating commercial areas so that they are concentrated downtown.
Although the city made progress in related areas, most of these specific projects required partnerships, advisory expertise, funding and planning work that the city was unable to complete on its own.
Furthermore, the economic landscape has changed in the last decade, McQuead said.
The Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development chose the city of Enterprise from 31 applicants covering 51 communities who applied to the new Eastern Oregon Economic Development Planning Project.
That project creates up-to-date Economic Opportunity Analysis documents and is supported by State of Oregon General Fund by special appropriation for 2018-2019.