Tualatin hires community coordinator, economic development manager
The city of Tualatin recently hired two employees — Betsy Ruef and Jonathan Taylor — to serve as the city's community engagement coordinator and economic development manager, respectively.
Ruef most recently spent five years as community engagement assistant in Tigard, and prior to that, worked five years for the city of Salem, participating in community involvement for the city's building and safety departments.
Ruef said she is excited to delve into the new position, the first of its kind in the city, noting the city really wanted to step up its focus on engaging everyone and connecting with underserved communities and people of color.
"We want to make government more accessible to everyone in the community," she said, adding that she hopes to bridge gaps and empower community leaders. In addition, she wants everyone to feel welcome and hopes to create spaces where people can connect.
While in Tigard, Ruef focused mainly on Latino engagement program events and helped start the first Latino Festival in 2016. That event continued last year.
"They were both very successful," she said.
Ruef said her new job not only will include a special focus on the Latino community but will be expanded to include a multi-cultural outreach to other communities as well.
"We definitely want to get the word out to the community that we're here," she said. "I'm happy to meet with members of the community."
City Manager Sherilyn Lombos said creating the position of a community engagement coordinator is an important component to help the city "deepen our two-way conversations with our community."
"Betsy brings a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience with her, plus she's a natural relationship-builder and connector," said Lombos. "She's also a native Spanish speaker which is important in Tualatin since about 20 percent of our community speaks Spanish."
Meanwhile, Taylor takes over as the city's new economic development manager.
Taylor most recently served as director of economic development in Trinidad, Colo., a city that until the 1980s relied on coal mines as the backbone of that town's economy. Under his tenure, Trinidad's downtown vacancy rate dropped from 68 percent to 29 percent.
"Our unemployment (went from) 7 percent to 3.1 percent in two years," Taylor pointed out.
The Colorado town now has a tourism-based economy focused extensively on outdoor recreation sports and cannabis retail sales, which both equate to roughly $37 million annually, he said.
Taylor also previously headed the Washington County Partnership in Plymouth, N.C., a city that went from timber production to the production a pulp product used primarily for diapers.
"So I've spent the last 10 years in rural development," he said.
While the challenges of rural development were many, Taylor said he will now focus on helping out and retaining Tualatin's industries and businesses, which have total estimated payrolls of $1.5 trillion.
An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 come into the city each day with a total workforce of around 30,000, said Taylor.
Tualatin's largest industry is advanced manufacturing, followed by health care, and transportation and logistics.
Meanwhile, Taylor said for the future he'd like to expand the city's relationship with Greater Portland Inc., which provides support and services to companies seeking to relocate or expand in Greater Portland.
Lombos said the city also was excited about hiring Taylor.
"He brings diverse and interesting experience from Colorado as well as North Carolina," Lombos said. "Our business community is such a vital part of the fabric of Tualatin in so many ways and the Economic Development Manager has a hand in recruiting businesses, helping them expand and helping them navigate the sometimes challenging regulatory processes they face."
In his spare time, Taylor likes to ski, kayak and engage in all the "proverbial outdoor stuff."
Ruef, too, said she likes to spend time outdoors, camping and hiking and spends a lot of time in Central Oregon and the Crescent Lake area.