County economic development department is working with companies to streamline permitting process

Thanks to the efforts of the Clackamas County Business and Economic Development Department, Estacada may soon be smiling pretty for television and movie cameras.

During its Monday, March 11, meeting, the City Council heard a presentation from Jamie Johnk, an economic development coordinator for the county.

She updated the council on ongoing attempts to encourage production companies to film in the area.

Johnk said production companies already are adding $212 million annually to the county’s gross domestic product and generating 4,800 jobs per year throughout Oregon.

Because of that, she said, the county has been reaching out to the industry to try and simplify the processes involved in setting up shoots locally.

The television show Leverage was produced in the Portland area, but wasn’t renewed for another season. However, Johnk said the company that produced it plans to shoot a pilot for another show in the area, along with movies and feature films. Scenes from the popular Twilight movie series were shot in nearby Carver. NBC’s hit show Grimm is filmed in Portland, but frequently shoots scenes outside of the city.

But when crews film in multiple locations, Johnk said, they encounter different processes among varying jurisdictions.

The county has created a unified permitting process to make it easier, and that was adopted by the Board of Commissioners last November.

The county is asking its cities to adopt similar policies, Johnk said, and is working on creating an online permitting process.

Through that online system, producers can indicate where they would like to film and that information would be forwarded to the cities involved. They can develop fee schedules to recover any costs that may be incurred, such as the use of staff time.

The city of Canby has adopted such policies, she said, and that includes the requirement of a business license for the production companies to conduct their operations there.

Jurisdictions also are being asked to provide photographs of locations that can be filmed.

Councilor Rob Gaskill asked if putting a process in place would deter companies from filming in the area. Johnk replied that the policies were developed at the companies’ request and that the county has received more phone calls and referrals since it started the process.

“This sounds like a great opportunity,” Mayor Brent Dodrill said, adding that councilors would follow up with city staff to help expedite these efforts.

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