By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Projects responding to anticipated growth

Driving around town this year, it feels like significant growth in McMinnville: more traffic; lots of construction; field work marking approval of a 278-unit subdivision. And there are so many planning projects in the works that it’s hard to keep track of them all.

All that activity, however, is not a response to growth; rather, it is in anticipation of growth to come.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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As busy as things seem, the city’s low growth rate this decade has been a respite from some past years. I remember decades back when McMinnville had multiple years of growth in the 3-5 percent range. The result of that growth produced considerable controversy and chaos, with some spirited growth/no-growth debates related to annexations, land use and development plans.

McMinnville’s population grew just 3.6 percent from 2010 (32,240) to 2016 (33,405) – an average of just 0.6 percent per year. It’s only in 2015-16 that annual population growth averaged 1 percent.

However, before getting comfortable with slow growth, we need to look closely at the latest estimates coming from the Population Research Center at Portland State University. Those forecasts envision McMinnville with average annual population growth of 1.4 percent between now and 2035, taking the city population to 44,233.

Here’s a surprise I found buried in the PSU report: Those projects include a little-known estimate putting McMinnville’s 2017 population at 34,293 – a whopping 2.66 percent increase from 2016. If McMinnville actually grew 2.66 percent annually between now and 2035, the city’s population would rise to 55,000.

It’s easy to see that those population numbers are augmented by rising visitor counts as McMinnville tourism efforts draw more and more guests to town.

All of this confirms that McMinnville citizens and officials are being prudently proactive with all the projects and initiatives that currently are producing somewhat frenetic levels of activity.

Homelessness, affordable housing and downtown behavior are high on the City Council’s list of priorities; urban renewal is evolving, with focus soon on downtown streetscape; transportation bond projects are slowing traffic with improvements designed to ease future traffic flow; major studies are in the works for downtown parking, citywide signage and Three Mile Lane development.

Not to be left behind, McMinnville District 40 continues widespread expansion and renovation of school facilities, and Yamhill County is looking closely at its role as a major property owner snuggled ever more tightly into the growing McMinnville downtown.

By the way, for any who think 5 percent annual population growth wouldn’t be so difficult to take, that rate would put McMinnville’s 2035 population at an impressive 82,500.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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