By editorial board • 

Concerns understood; but now it's time to GROW

On the surface, it sounds as if the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership just spent $107,000 of county money deciding how to spend $250,000 in county money, and is now looking for another $55,700 in county money to finish the job. But things are rarely as simple as they seem on the surface, and they certainly aren’t in this case.

Executive Director Jody Christensen said the original award to MEDP was spent developing a new countywide economic development program from scratch. The plan drew on outside consulting expertise and featured work by a 65-member cross-section of carefully chosen partners, including representatives of all 10 incorporated local communities. It developed visions, missions and goals under a new Grow Yamhill County brand.

Along the way, she said, GROW developed something the county has long been lacking — an economic action plan identifying specific opportunities and ways they can be realized. She said the $55,700 being sought in followup is crucial to implement that plan, which in turn is crucial for making the original investment pay off.

Ironically, Christensen has come under some heat from the city of McMinnville recently over the same program, but for a very different reason. 

The county’s concern could be characterized as “whose buck for the bang?” and the city issue is “whose bang for the buck?” At least one county commissioner wants buy-in from the cities before more county money goes to the GROW project; the city worries that Christensen has forgotten she heads the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership, not the Yamhill County Economic Development Partnership.

We can understand the bases for both concerns. 

When spending on branding, website development and social media campaigns approaches six figures, our ears perk up as well. We can appreciate Commissioner Allen Springer’s compulsion to ask some hard questions. And since MEDP is designed to be McMinnville-centric, we also can appreciate a city council desire to probe the agency’s apparent stretch of that reach.

Here’s the backstory:

Every year, the state sends a sliver of video poker money to the counties for economic development — about $250,000 here. For a long time, counties have defined economic development broadly enough to cover virtually any need or desire under the sun.

The state got grouchy about that. Yamhill and other counties have pledged to take a more disciplined and concentrated approach with future allocations, wielding a rifle instead of a shotgun. Yamhill County naturally turned to the MEDP, the leader in the local field.

We see the bottom line this way:

The county is doing the right thing in sharpening its focus. MEDP is doing the right thing in developing a well-defined countywide program with lots of buy in. And the city will be doing the right thing if it simply stands back.

As the county’s governmental, cultural, economic and industrial hub, McMinnville is going to be a key beneficiary of development occurring anywhere in the county. What’s more, MEDP’s specialty is industrial development, and McMinnville is uniquely suited to take advantage of that, given its vastly superior infrastructure.



Not clear on what you mean by "vastly superior infrastructure". Also, McMinnville may be the cultural, economic and industrial hub of the Yamhill Valley (western Yamhill county). But Newberg-Dundee is the cultural, economic and industrial hub of the Chehalem Valley (eastern Yamhill county).


Our sphere of reference is our circulation area. It includes several small outlying towns, but not Newberg. Like McMinnville, Newberg is clearly capable of standing on its own.
However, the county's smaller communities, including your hometown of Dundee, could use the county's help. And we'd like to see them get it.
We don't think McMinnville has anything to fear from that, and by extension, neither does Newberg. We think they can rest easy.
Steve Bagwell, Managing Editor


I hope the NewsRegister realizes not all of its "circulation area" agrees that McMinnville has a "vastly superior infrastructure". Especially when your own online access is so inferior to the Newberg Graphic and other neighboring news organizations.

McMinnville (and the News Register) looks out for itself, promotes itself, and believes its own hype at the expense of those "several outlying towns".

Additionally, I applaud the MEDP's integrity in using county/state funds for a county-centric, state-mandated economic development plan.

And you are right when you state: [McMinnville] "will be doing the right thing if it simply stands back." And then the rest of us "can rest easy".


The Newberg Graphic went to a subscription-only web operation long before the News-Register. More than 75 percent of the state's weeklies and small dailies now restrict access to subscribers, and most of the rest are moving that direction. The Seattle Times just went subscription-only, signaling the big dailies are also looking to put their web operations on a more business-like basis.
You pay for medical and dental services, car repair services, vet services, financial services and so forth. Why should only news services be offered to all free of charge, and how are we supposed to support that model over the long term?
Nothing in life is truly free, and that includes professional news reports, whether they come from the Graphic, the News-Register or some other source.
And if there is a city in our circulation area that has superior infrastructure to McMinnville, please cite it for me.
As I noted, Newberg does NOT lie in our circulation area, nor does McMinnville lie in the Graphics. We are simply neighboring private business operations, each trying to make a go of it as best we can in a changing news environment. So, as I noted before, that assertion was never meant to include Newberg.
Steve Bagwell, Managing Editor

Jeb Bladine

DocKat is right to point out that we should be careful using language such as "vastly superior" in writing about a countywide issue.
As Steve Bagwell points out, that comment was made in thinking about our immediate newspaper market area, where McMinnville indeed has a more developed industrial base than found in the surrounding small communities. That's no criticism of those great communities, just a comment on respective levels of industrial development.
Newberg, of course, has its own highly developed industrial base, and also will benefit from this countywide economic development effort.
Mr. Bagwell might have mentioned that has about 30,000 unique visitors each month, with between 600,000 and 750,000 monthly page views. We recognize the value that the Newberg Graphic adds to its publication with an active website, but do not agree that a comparison would find the N-R website inferior.
Thanks for pointing out the language issue of our editorial comment.
Jeb Bladine

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