Governments, business leaders hope to chart industrial lands

Study could help recruit major employers
by: Map courtesy of Metro Metro produced this map of large 50-acre industrial sites (shown in blue), the state maintains similar inventories of lands used to recruit employers. Under a new working group, the hope is to expand the metro-area’s understanding of the challenges and opportunities related to developing industrial land in the region.

With unemployment and job creation at the center of all political discussions, the desire to lure another Intel to the Portland Metro region is tantalizing area politicians even more than ever.

But getting a major employer to pick Hillsboro or Gresham off the map and dump millions into developing a new campus isn't as easy as putting up a 'for lease' sign.

That's because not every buildable site is the same. Some have wetlands or pollution that would require mitigation, or lack the transportation infrastructure to support a boost in daily commuters.

That's where a new initiative led by a conglomeration of regional business associations and governments is supposed to help.

The Regional Lands Inventory project won't bring the next Intel to Oregon on its own, but could be the first step to that eventual goal.

The partnership between the State of Oregon, Metro, the Port of Portland, the Portland Business Alliance and NAIOP, a commercial real estate development association, hopes to build a spreadsheet detailing industrial sites 25 acres or larger throughout the region and identify the barriers to development at each site.

Mike Williams with Business Oregon, the state's business development and recruitment department, said the inventory will likely use criteria similar to the state's certified industrial lands process, which identifies industrial properties that could be shovel-ready in 180 days.

Having properties that could easily - and reliably - be developed helps bring employers into the state, Williams said.

'We're focused on high value recruitments that can really change the face of the state and the region,' Williams said.

This project will dig deeper, examining sites smaller and more troublesome than those on the state's list.

Once that's done, Metro hopes to identify the steps it can take to eliminate or mitigate any barriers for development of those lands inside the region's urban growth boundary.

The data will also help future decisions about UGB expansion.