Lloyd Purdy begins new role in August

Working in Oregon City, Lloyd Purdy helped bring in more than $1 million a year in private-sector investment.

Now, he’s switching his focus to Tigard.

Purdy, who was hired last week as the city’s new economic development manager, will have considerable creative license in building the city’s economic development program from the ground up.

“I’m ready to be looking beyond just downtowns,” Purdy told The Times on Thursday. “Tigard has a whole city ready to grow and mature and evolve. This is an opportunity to do city-wide economic development.”Purdy

The announcement comes the same week the city unveiled plans to install large public art displays on Southwest Main Street and opened a new parking lot downtown. Both projects are part of the city’s plan to revitalize its historically struggling downtown.

“Tigard is home to thousands of businesses, large and small,” said Kenny Asher, Tigard’s director of community development, which will oversee Purdy’s position. “To leverage both the region’s strength as an export-intensive economy and Tigard’s growing list of success stories downtown, we needed to take our economic development program to the next level. Lloyd has demonstrated a knack for creating partnerships and brands that make a difference.”

Those partnerships came from Main Street Oregon City, the downtown revitalization organization Purdy founded four years ago.

“There has been a lot of momentum happening in Oregon City,” Purdy said.

Purdy is credited with helping to transform the city’s downtown core, bringing in scores of new businesses and renovating buildings. More than $3.2 million worth of grants were funded to downtown businesses under his tenure.

He developed tactics and strategies to drive more residential development into downtown and hosted “Illuminate Oregon City,” a special art project projected onto the city’s famous Municipal Elevator.

In Tigard, Purdy’s focus will be on much more than just the downtown — though he will have a hand in revitalizing that as well.

“My time will be to go into building momentum and continuing the momentum in downtown and working in other parts of the city,” Purdy said. “We can do that, that’s a very realistic expectation.”

Tigard will be the largest city that Purdy has worked for. Oregon City is only a little more than half the size of Tigard. Before his time there, he worked in Cortland, New York, a small town with a population of about 19,000.

“There are complex challenges with Tigard, along with greater opportunities and more resources,” Purdy said.

One of the things Purdy will have to get a handle on is Tigard’s lack of identity and making sure the city keeps up with economic advances in neighboring cities, such as Beaverton and Hillsboro.

Much of that work is already under way, Purdy said.

“Sometimes communities need to reinvent themselves, and I think that the city is doing that,” Purdy said. “By hiring an economic development manager and the things they are doing downtown, they are sort of drawing a line in the sand.”

Getting those investors, however, can be a challenge without the right plan, Purdy said.

He plans on using community identity and area resources to jumpstart economic activity.

“I have a heavy focus on using local resources to drive local change,” he said.

He put that idea to work in Oregon City, using the town’s reputation as a blue-collar community to its advantage.

Calling the downtown a "blue-collar creative" community, Oregon City leaders were able to draw in more creative services, professionals and entrepreneurs to downtown, he said.

“We said, ‘Let's use who we are, an old mill town that is authentic and maturing.’ Let’s use that honesty to forge a new path.”

Tigard’s goal isn’t to copy other nearby cities, Purdy said, but to create its own identity in the greater Portland area.

“We are going to become something different, and the city has said it wants to put energy and thought into this. It won’t be the next Hillsboro or the next Pearl District or even the next Oregon City. It will be something uniquely Tigard.”

Purdy will step into his new position on Aug. 5.

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