If Gresham's future with the Port of Portland is anything like Troutdale's present, then good things are likely heading this direction.
Last week we learned that the Port of Portland wants to purchase 222 acres in Gresham (property surrounding the ON Semiconductor plant off Northeast Glisan Street.) And today, Wednesday, Oct. 12, the port's commission is scheduled to consider the proposal to spend $26.5 million on the land acquisition. We hope the port commission agrees with the proposal and moves ahead with the purchase.
From our standpoint, all we have to do is look to Troutdale's experience when the port purchased the site of the former Reynolds Aluminum Plant, making it ready for new industries and job creation. Already, the addition of the FedEx facility on that site has produced 800 jobs. And the potential is there for nearly 2,000 more at the Troutdale Business Park.
Furthermore, the port has consistently demonstrated an ability to function as a cooperative partner with local governments.
We know that the port's involvement does not provide a guarantee for industrial development, but we do know the port has a proven record of success and the expertise and resources needed to bring about meaningful economic growth.
It's that level of growth that has been elusive, as the land surrounding ON Semiconductor has been underutilized for 20 years. With the port's help, the property would see new access points, water lines and other infrastructure improvements.
But that might just be the tip of the iceberg. With the port's involvement, East County would benefit from the port's:
• Aggressive marketing of the property to manufacturing companies and other potential industries;
• Commitment that any development would not only provide much-needed jobs but also, in the long run, contribute millions of dollars in property taxes to local jurisdictions, thereby improving public services such as police and fire protection; and,
• Intent to protect the land for industrial purposes and ensure that the property is not converted to other, less valuable uses.
Why East County?
Few properties remain that will accommodate significant industrial development. The property surrounding ON Semiconductor is one such place. And that's why it's so important that this property be preserved for industrial development.
But it's not just the size of the property that matters. It's also about location, location, location. East County has quick and easy access to interstate highways and is close in proximity to two airports.
The benefits for East County
The port's involvement will greatly improve the odds that the property will be used to attract high-value industries that provide good wages to Gresham-area workers.
The growth in jobs will make Gresham and surrounding communities more complete by adding employers and allowing East County residents to work closer to home, which will help correct the current jobs-housing imbalance. Right now, a majority of Gresham-area residents commute to work in other parts of the metro area.
In turn, the addition of new employers will support numerous other businesses, some existing and some new.
The full build-out of the property surrounding ON Semiconductor will bring money and people into the local economy.
And that will allow the Gresham city center, downtown Troutdale, the Wood Village Town Center and other commercial districts to reach full potential with restaurants, shops and support services.
Having the port's involvement means all these positive things will happen sooner rather than later - or potentially not at all.