Those who put together the America's Best Cities entry for Tualatin are improving the community.

Picture this.

You have a chance to get a good job — like, a really good job. A job that will help you provide for your family, maybe even get you on the path to owning a nice new house. We're talking about the kind of job that would change your life.

Here's the catch: The application process is very competitive, and it requires three years of professional training before you can get it, and at every stage of the process, there's a good chance you could be eliminated from contention. (Sound familiar, former medical and law students?) You can't just fire-and-forget a résumé and cover letter. You really have to dig deep and invest in it.

Now, imagine you have made it all the way in this process. You've put in three years of hard work. You've changed so much about the way you live and even the way you look at the world in pursuit of this amazing job opportunity.

And then you don't get it. You don't get the job. Somebody else gets it. After all that work.

You would be devastated, right? Maybe you would feel like you had wasted your time, three years of it, training for something that you didn't get. Maybe you would feel like it was pointless to keep trying at all.

But that's kind of like what happened to Tualatin's team in the America's Best Communities competition. They made it all the way to the finals from a field of 350 applicants. And far from being cut to pieces by missing out on a grand prize last month — up to $3 million! — the members of that team are moving forward, building on the investments they have made and working to fulfill the goals they have set.

We salute them.

The America's Best Communities competition was a joint venture between Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel to identify small or rural communities with big visions for their own revitalization and improvement.

Tualatin reached the finals with an ambitious plan to, in the words of Mayor Lou Ogden, "eliminate poverty" by connecting students of all backgrounds with science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education that can help mold them into the kind of skilled, savvy workers that local high-tech and manufacturing companies are looking to hire.

So what if the competition's judges decided that, although Tualatin's plan was one of the eight best they saw, it wasn't one of the three good enough to win million-dollar-plus grand prizes? It's a good plan. It's a smart plan. And it works for Tualatin.

Tualatin is one of those "new communities" that has come of age amid the digital revolution. Barely more than a tiny hamlet before its population exploded in the 1970s, it is now one of Portland's most vibrant suburbs, with such innovative features as a dual language immersion program at one school (Bridgeport Elementary School), one of the largest inventories of industrial land in the region (which is itself studded with attractive local businesses like Ancestry Brewing and Industry Restaurant), and an incredible public library whose staff have embraced and played a key role in driving forward the Tualatin ABC team's STEAM push.

STEAM makes sense in Tualatin. Partnerships between its K-12 schools, institutes of higher

education like Oregon Tech (see story, page 1) and Portland Community College, and high-tech employers like Lam Research and Eaton Corp. make sense. Reaching out with tools like a

"Mobile Makerspace" trailer and drop-in events at the library, to ensure that a significant and growing Spanish-speaking minority and other oft-marginalized segments of the population

have the same access to learning and career

opportunities as everyone else, makes sense.

Tualatin missed out on a grand prize. But that does not, should not and will not erase the accomplishments that have already been made, like the Mobile Makerspace and the connections made between players like the city, the school district, business and others. The community is moving forward toward this plan.

If that doesn't make Tualatin one of America's best communities, then we don't know what would.

Contract Publishing

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