By editorial board • 

Targeted plan may breed new era of biz promotion

The résumé for McMinnville is robust. It features affordable land, cheap utilities, a skilled and educated workforce, strong development programs and a history of effective community leadership and cultural amenities without any urban traffic tradeoff.

But anyone who’s applied for a job knows credentials listed on paper won’t get you to your goal by themselves. You have to make an engaging face-to-face impression to seal the deal

It’s been a mixed bag for local economic development and industry promotions the last couple of years. We have suffered some major layoffs on the back end of the recession, countered, at least in part, by expansion of some existing businesses and siting of some new ones.

Now, to use the stereotypical sports/business analogy, it’s time to apply a full-court press.

Remarks from Jody Christensen of the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership last week seemed promising. In a report submitted to the McMinnville City Council, she outlined a shift in focus to more targeted endeavors.

“This effort moves our organization from activities such as trade show attendance to more targeted activities like one-on-one meetings and appointments with decisionmakers and site selectors,” she said. 

This strategy was used to kickstart the local industrial sector originally by the Chamber of Commerce and McMinnville Industrial Promotions. Fallout from the mid-’90s closure of the Hewlett-Packard operation, eliminating 250 high-paying jobs, led the community to pass the baton to MEDP.

Christensen and her staff have engaged in myriad tasks and projects during recent years, including a successful effort to build the local workforce through job fairs and internship opportunities.

Persuading large business to relocate to your area is always a challenge, especially when you lack immediate freeway access. It will take community leaders from a broad range of entities, working in common cause, to get the job done.

But the timing seems perfect.

There will soon be a changing of the guard with both the chamber, where Nathan Knottingham is relinquishing the helm, and the county, where Mayor Rick Olson will soon be replacing Allen Springer on the board of commissioners

Knottingham established some useful groundwork in his brief time here. One of his innovations was Lemonade Day, a splendid example of community partnerships and youthful entrepreneurship. 

The county’s GROW Yamhill County initiative is still fairly fresh. Working relationships sometimes seemed strained, but the initial momentum can still be recaptured. And the GROW website is an attractive resource we can build on moving forward. 

As McMinnville and Yamhill County have gained in population, so has its business community and industrial core. It’s understandable that competing interests and agendas can make a 60s-esque singular vision for business promotion difficult to achieve.

But that’s the task at hand.

We’ve experienced a surge this year in inquiries from businesses expressing interest in the area. It’s going to take a council of leaders on the same page to deliver cohesive pitches to land the jobs. Hopefully, we have the makings in place.

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