With an improving national economy, Forest Grove is beginning to emerge from the long recession. Over the past year, the city has experienced a number of recent business successes. Key highlights include:

n Vacant industrial space has been reduced from 681,530 square feet to 400,000 square feet;

n Six companies have used the Business Incentive Program thus far in 2013. Four are using the Enterprise Zone Program;

n 151 to 159 jobs have been created from new companies and existing company expansion.

The recent improvements are the result of two main factors. The first is a result of aggressive economic development marketing, programs and networking to build awareness and improve our brand, modest business incentive programs and strong business assistance.

The second factor is a result of the competitive advantages offered by Forest Grove including low business costs — some of the lowest power and water rates in the metro area — lower land and lease costs and nominal or no local business license fees or business taxes. It’s also because Forest Grove offers less congestion, a good quality of life and room to grow.

Here are some highlights of city-assisted business projects:

n Chaucer Foods, Yew Street. In final decision stage. Food processing. Initially 71 jobs, occupying 84,600 square feet.

n Summit Foods Inc., B Street. Food processing. Occupying 31,200 square feet. Will begin operations Jan. 1, 2014. Four to seven new jobs initially.

n Old Trapper, 24th Avenue. Additional $550,000 equipment expansion as part of growth with 9,000 square foot building expansion. Total investment: $2.1 million. New jobs created: 33.

n Pascor, 23rd Avenue. New 17,000 square foot building plus 9,000 square foot covered storage area expansion. Adding seven new jobs. Company makes and assembles equipment for power grid.

n Lieb Foods, 23rd Avenue. Phase II equipment expansion for new juice product. $250,000 investment, added six new jobs.

n Prime Time Restaurant, Pacific Avenue. Rebuilt restaurant and expanded by 1,500 square foot with 19 more jobs than the old site.

n Clearwater Pump Company, Douglas Street. Leasing 6,035 square feet, formerly vacant building. Adding four jobs.

n Forest Grove Commerce Center, Yew Street. Vacant space reduced by 57,200 square feet. New tenants include Acme Construction Supply, Oregon Hazelnuts and New Season Foods warehouse expansion. Fifteen to 20 new jobs from Acme.

n Hippocrateas, Hawthorne Street. New small business. Health teas and wellness. Occupied vacant commercial property. Three new jobs.

n O’Reilly Auto Parts, Pacific Avenue. Built larger store of 7,500 square feet on new site.

n NAPA Service Center, Adair Avenue. Committed to building a new 7,100 square foot service (not parts) center.

What’s next? We are currently working on several project leads, including a microbrewery, a new downtown restaurant, a fitness center, a startup distiller, a value-added wood products manufacturer, an information technology services startup and a machine manufacturer.

We are also expanding tourism efforts through a new stakeholder committee. Efforts to date have included a tourism video, distribution of nearly all of the Forest Grove visitor guides to visitor centers around the state, including the Portland airport; support of a summer Northwest baseball tournament in Forest Grove; cross-marketing all September and December events; and development of a new local food and wine guide.

We are continuing to market Forest Grove through several means including innovative new digital approaches such as Google Ads. Another effort is a renewed business outreach/retention effort to assist existing companies.

Overall, 2013 has been a productive year for Forest Grove. With an improving economy and effective marketing program, we see continued positive opportunities ahead for 2014.

Jeffrey King is the economic development manager for the city of Forest Grove.

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