While it is in better shape than other Oregon communities, Sherwood still must work to attract new jobs as its population continues to grow, planning consultants told residents and business leaders at a September forum on economic development.
The update on the economic state of the city came during a special presentation hosted by the Sherwood Urban Renewal Planning Advisory Committee (SURPAC), and was the result of months of work by city staff and consultants, who have been interviewing business owners and soliciting input from the public in an attempt to craft Sherwood's first comprehensive economic development strategy.
The report established a number of goals, and all of them were driven by the idea that Sherwood should work toward 'medium to high growth' from an economic standpoint. That concept is due largely in part to the fact that Sherwood will likely grow to about 30,000 from its current 15,000 by 2025, explained Todd Chase, a senior planner with Otak, Inc., a planning consultant. Given that growth, Chase said Sherwood will need to expand its job growth from its current 4000 jobs to between 7000 and 11,700 jobs. Consultants suggested shooting for a job growth figure at least in the middle of that spectrum.
'If we were to recommend anything to the city policy makers today,' Chase said, 'it's to at least try to accommodate a medium job growth scenario.'
Consultants explained that while they considered Sherwood 'housing rich, jobs poor,' the city's situation was not as dire as some communities. The current ratio of light industrial jobs to typically lower paying service industry jobs is 60 to 40. But planners warned that ratio could eventually reverse itself as new growth spurs the demand for more retail and food service jobs, which typically pay less than the skilled labor positions required by industrial jobs.
Sherwood also has more plots of land available that could potentially be used for light industrial development, though in its current land configuration still lacks enough to sustain the thousands of additional jobs consultants believe should be created. The amount of acres available for industrial development will likely increase as the city expands to the south and east.
In the future, Chase said Sherwood will likely be able to attract high-wage jobs like those in the medical field to satisfy the current surge in population, which consists largely of 'high-income, well-educated people probably working outside of Sherwood.' Chase said a hospital could be a possibility within the next decade or so, but he also pointed out that other communities are looking to attract the same type of high-wage jobs.
While the presentation focused largely on future job growth, consultants also talked about the importance of growing the businesses already present in Sherwood, and the presentation identified existing clusters of business in light manufacturing, creative services, education businesses and home based businesses. Chase said it is better to 'grow by design,' meaning the city should capitalize on those existing businesses and target growth toward specific industries, rather than growing by 'market chance,' or just waiting in hopes that a large employer will move into the city.
One future growth area consultants identified were recreation and tourism. In addition to some already existing recreation opportunities like the ice rink and Sherwood's numerous parks and athletic leagues, consultants pointed out that tourism will likely grow in the Washington and Yamhill County areas, and they briefly touched on the opportunity for Sherwood to position itself as an entry point into the Willamette Valley's vineyards.