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Land, roads and promotion are the keys


Ludlow offers ideas on how to make Lake Oswegos economy grow

Friendly but forceful was the image presented by John Ludlow, chairman of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, to the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Committee at a meeting last week.

Ludlow was elected to his post in last November’s election, and local chamber of commerce officials think he now has an excellent opportunity to do Lake Oswego some good.

“We’re excited to have John Ludlow in the position he’s in,” said Chuck O’Leary, executive director of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce. “He has been a longtime supporter of the chamber of commerce, and we’re happy to learn of his enthusiasm for economic development in our community. We look forward to working with him.”

Ludlow’s main purpose March 14 was to explain how Lake Oswego “fits in” with overall economic development in Clackamas County. At this time Clackamas County is often in the position of envying what is going on in neighboring Washington and Multnomah counties, and Ludlow urged boldness on acquiring land for business development, lobbying for road building and becoming more proactive in promoting the assets of Lake Oswego.

The lay of the land does not work in Clackamas County’s favor.

“Compared to Washington County, Clackamas County does not have flat land,” said Ludlow, who formerly was mayor of Wilsonville. “Our county has been repeatedly turned down on land it wanted to bring in for development. That has had a drastic effect on us. We do not have 50-acre parcels to offer to businesses. Washington County gets the Intels and Nikes and the service industries that spin off from them. We want some of that.” Ludlow

Despite the lack of large land parcels, Ludlow believes cities of Clackamas County offer a lot.

“Lake Oswego has the most educated and affluent population in the county,” Ludlow said. “West Linn, Wilsonville and Lake Oswego, in my opinion, have the best school districts in the state.”

Robert Le Chevalier, a former LOCC president, suggested a more proactive approach in reaching out to companies.

“Let them know about our amenities,” Le Chevalier said. “We’re at the stage where we have to promote this community because we’re competing with everybody else.”

Ludlow agreed.

“I think you should sell promotions. Sell yourself,” he said. “Have packets of information ready to show you have spaces for a business. We need more industrial lands, although Metro is the ultimate decider on that.”

Roads are at the top of Ludlow’s list of ways to revitalize the economy.

“We’ve thrown plenty of money at light rail,” Ludlow said. “To continue to thrive we need roads and highways. Can we please reinvest in our own roadways? There is a tremendous lack of money for road repairs.

“Our county roads are now suffering. If we let them go to the point where there is water penetration of roads, the next step will be replacing roads, and that will require a huge tax. We want to aggressively take on road repair. Our commissioners are constantly lobbying the state Legislature to do something about this. But unlike other lobbyists we don’t have checkbooks. But if we express the need enough, I think the Legislature will pass it.”

The future of the development of the Stafford Hamlet was another key item on Ludlow’s meeting agenda.

“It’s the crown jewel of Clackamas County. It’s a cherished, beautiful area,” said Ludlow, who noted that the surrounding cities have yet to come to the table to discuss the future of Stafford. “The hamlet is now ready for change to come. The commission feels strongly Stafford should be developed much sooner rather than later. The development of Stafford would help this entire area.”

While there is much reason to feel good about the economic future of the cities of Clackamas County, there are some disappointments.

Douglas Cushing, chairman of the LOCC government affairs committee, noted, “The Kruse Way corridor is rather empty.”

Ludlow believes strong action will turn the situation around in Lake Oswego, and he wants the Cwmas County commissioners to lead the way.

“The bottom line is we must be very aggressive about promoting business and prosperity,” Ludlow said.