By editorial board • 

Area keeps preparing for an economic upturn

Yamhill County leaders are following signs suggesting that economic recovery is on the move, and the trail is producing myriad projects to make this area better prepared for the hoped-for revival.

Small communities in the county have been engaged in a wide variety of forward-looking development projects in recent years, with momentum growing. The largest cities, McMinnville and Newberg, have their own on-the-ground projects in addition to planning for the future.

The GROW Yamhill County economic development planning project, under way since mid-2012, has moved toward finalization of a far-reaching document that could bolster the area’s economic efforts for many years to come. As with all such plans, the proof will be in the follow-through, not in what emerges on paper over the next month.

Driving around the county, we see new orchards and vineyards planted and community main streets showing signs of optimism for the future. Of course, we still see the results of a difficult recession in the form of closed commercial doors and localized areas of neighborhood deterioration, but those indicators seem outnumbered by positive signals.

McMinnville continues working on its long-considered urban renewal plan, which could drive significant infrastructure development in the city’s core area and so-called Northeast Gateway over the next 25 years. The long list of projects being developed in that effort may exceed the funding that becomes available through urban renewal, but that financial base can be augmented by additional sources in years to come.

Groundbreaking on the Newberg-Dundee Bypass project is a major milestone that bodes well for the future of a local economy needing better access to the metropolitan area. While only half a loaf for now, the new roadway will be a substantial first step toward maintaining that key transportation link.

Despite major controversy, there is hopeful evidence that Oregon and Washington will take advantage of this window of opportunity to build the new Columbia River Crossing. This key element of the region’s transportation system depends on the two states holding firm with matching shares of financing to accompany an enormous federal government investment.

Nationally, as well as in Oregon, we see reductions in the unemployment rate and creation of more jobs. On the flip side of the coin, however, construction continues to lag compared to boom economic times of the past, and it’s going to require major growth in the housing market to boost economic trends.

Slow and steady seems to be the working phrase for those who are watching for economic recovery and preparing for better times. In Yamhill County, at all levels of local government and private sector planning, those preparations have been ongoing, which will give our area a jumpstart on important development projects as economic hopes evolve into actual upturns.

Local citizens should give votes of confidence to leaders in local government, institutions and civic organizations who have maintained a “glass half full” attitude through the recession. That outlook will pay off for the local economy.

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