Citizens asked to help formulate economic strategies
Local economic development leaders are encouraging the public to attend summit meetings on economic strategic planning hosted next week by the Union County Economic Development Corp.
UCEDC is inviting all members of the community to participate in one of two meetings slated for May 28 and May 29 at the Blue Mountain Conference Center.
The purpose is to help Union County prepare and plan for the future, said UCEDC interim executive director Mike Sanford.“These are enormously challenging times for the people of Union County,” Sanford said. “Now is the time to take a look at what is possible for the county and all its cities.”
At the center of discussions will be a strategic planning process designed by Brian Cole of Baker City-based Orbis Group.
Cole has developed a new procedure he says will help communities take a strategic approach in selecting activities that create jobs and improve local quality of life.
Cole’s planning process, called “Building Communities,” presents 25 economic development strategies and 85 key success factors to determine which options make the most sense of the future.
“I truly believe that communities and counties who utilize this approach will have a clear, more objective plan for the future after two days than most communities can have in two months of planning,” Cole said.
Charlie Mitchell, community and economic development director for the City of La Grande, said he believes Cole’s approach is a solid one.
“This really has great potential to give us a clear game plan for the future of La Grande and Union County,” Mitchell said.
UCEDC received a $10,000 grant from the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department to implement Cole’s approach. Local government entities have contributed as well, Sanford said.
County Commissioner Mark Davidson, the economic development liaison for the county board of commissioners, said he hopes people from all of Union County’s cities, and those from unincorporated areas, attend the sessions.
“Our planning sessions in late May could prove to be the most important meetings people attend all year long. I like to think of Union County as one big community, and this is a great opportunity for all of us to work together,” Davidson said.
For each city that sends at least 15 attendees, a free special report will be developed.
Bonita Hebert, mayor of North Powder, said her city is pleased to join Union County in the planning process.
“I think we all feel invited to the table. It’s time for all our people to show up,” she said.
The May 28 meeting takes place at the conference center, 404 12th Street, 5 to 9 p.m. The May 29 meeting will take place 1 to 5 p.m.
Those planning to attend are asked to call UCEDC, 963-0926, or Union County, 963-1001.
UCEDC, Union County, the Union County Chamber of Commerce, Union County Tourism, WorkSource Oregon and the Northeast Oregon Economic Development Corporation have all been involved in planning the meetings.