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Development interests on the upswing
There has been an uptick in companies interested in relocating to Union County, the Union County Economic Development Corporation director told La Grande city councilors.
In a Monday night work session, UCEDC Director Dan Stark said he has noticed an increase in interest in both the La Grande Business Park and Baum Industrial Park.
“We have a number of active files of people that have come in asking for information on properties,” Stark said. “It’s more than I’ve seen in the works in quite a while.”
The director also told councilors that UCEDC had planned to host a familiarity tour for site selectors, but that the corporation was concerned about a hook to get site selectors here on their own time. Stark said an alternative to that would be to invite a site selector to the area, pay his or her way along with a stipend and get a professional assessment of local properties.
That, Stark said, would provide an honest and professional opinion on what the area has to offer and what kinds of industry UCEDC should focus on.
Stark said between the city, county and UCEDC, $5,000 had been budgeted for the familiarity tour, so that money could be used to bring in a site selector. Two site selectors have been identified that would be interested in doing the assessment, Stark said.
“I think doing something with a site selector is important. I would certainly encourage it,” said councilor Gary Lillard.
City Manager Robert Strope said that kind of assessment would let them know what the community is doing right and wrong in terms of attracting businesses.
The hope, Strope said, would be a “refinement of our targeting effort.”
Councilor John Lackey said officials would need to make sure the site selector is aware of the specific questions that need answers.
“I would envision a written agreement between the two parties,” said Charlie Mitchell, the La Grande community and economic development director. “So we’re very clear up front with the expectations.”
Stark said the earliest they could have a site selector out would probably be in December.
The director also said during the work session that UCEDC is continuing its efforts to apply for 501c3 status to become a foundation. Stark said that would give individuals who want to donate to UCEDC a tax advantage that is not currently available. He said the application likely would be ready in 60 to 90 days.