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Wallace Joins Port Commission; Port Approves Annual Work Plan; Gorge Explores Growing Our Own Workforce with Internships; Business Spotlight: Wilson Supply Adds Port Location; System Development Charges 101; Real Estate Closings Slow Under Appraiser Shortage.
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Wallace Joins Port Commission

Robert Wallace of Dufur was elected to Position 1 on the Port of The Dalles Commission in the May 16 special districts election. Wallace fills the seat vacated by Kristi Timmons, who has served on the commission since 2006.

Commissioners Mike Courtney and Staci Coburn were returned to office in the same election. Mike is the longest serving commissioner in the history of the Port of The Dalles, with 20 years of service, succeeding John Geiger's 19 years of service.

Staci was appointed to the Commission in 2016 to fill the seat vacated by Bob McFadden. She was profiled in the August issue of Port Progress, which you can read here.


"When I started this journey serving The Port of The Dalles many years ago on the Budget Committee I sensed that this organization had a special mission and  a unique view of how a government body should work," says Commissioner Greg Weast, President of the Port Commission.  "That mission is to bring jobs to The Dalles, being very careful with the resources  our constituents have provided for our mission and using a very diverse group of leaders (commissioners).  Even though this culture is continuing, in recent years we are experiencing some changes.  Bob McFadden left the Commission for family reasons, replaced by Staci Coburn. Now long-time commissioner Kristi Timmons has chosen to retire and is being replaced by Robert Wallace.  Bob and Kristi were key members of the commission and will be missed for their unique and professional views. Now, we are  excited to have our new team members on board to continue the Port’s mission.  And then there is commissioner Courtney… Wow!  He is the longest standing commissioner in our Port’s history!  Twenty years and counting. I am humbled by his desire to volunteer and give back to his community."
 

Profile: Robert Wallace

Robert Wallace is a longtime resident and former mayor of Dufur. With his wife Randi, he is the father of two, Parker, eighth grade; and Payton, fourth grade.

He also serves on the Dufur School Board and has coached a wide variety of youth sports, most recently Dufur's first-year clay shooting team.

Robert is the Executive Director and  Certified Energy Manager of Wy'East RCD, working with the agriculture community on energy conservation.

"Seeing that there was a seat open, I wanted to try to help economic development throughout the Port area," Robert says. "Being from the Dufur area, I think I'm someone who can help look at areas outside the main industrial area in The Dalles for opportunities that are in some of the outlying areas."

Robert has worked for three different businesses in the Port of The Dalles Industrial Area.

"I know what some of the challenges may be for businesses on the Port," he says.

Robert also hopes to put his agriculture knowledge and experience to work on the Port's behalf.

Port Approves
Annual Work Plan

Port Commissioners recently approved a 2017-18 Work Plan that includes ongoing efforts in the Port's traditional arena of land development for recruitment, retention and enhancement of jobs and business, as well as a few less traditional approaches to the Port mission.

"We continue to look at opportunities to acquire property to support the creation, retention, expansion and recruitment of businesses and jobs that will enhance the economy of the Port district," says Andrea Klaas, Port Executive Director.

We are also looking at exploring untapped opportunities in the Dufur area, which is part of the Port district. Given the constraints on developable land resulting from the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, we and our partners are also looking at ways to develop a collaborative process for Urban Area expansion.

The Port is also exploring a variety of ways to partner with other organizations interested in local economic development. We are actively involved in The Dalles Main Street efforts, subscribing to the belief that a vibrant downtown is key to business recruitment.

We are also exploring ways to develop a facility that might benefit value-added agriculture, unofficially called the AgLAB (Agriculture Learning and Business Center). Agriculture is the largest industry in the Mid-Columbia. The idea is to support expanded agricultural entrepreneurship centering on  products that have the potential to bring added jobs and revenue from agriculture.

We are also working to partner with businesses, other economic development organizations and education to develop mentorship and internship programs to help build and strengthen the local workforce (see related story below).

We also continue to market the Wasco County area as a great place to live, work and play.

If you would like more information about the Port and its work plan, feel free to contact Kathy Ursprung at the Port, kathy.ursprung@portofthedalles.com or 541-298-4148. We also have a presentation that we would be happy to share with local civic or interest groups.


Jody Christensen, left, leads a discussion on regional assets needed to establish an internship program in the Columbia Gorge.
 

Gorge Explores Growing
Our Own Workforce
with Internships

A group of employers, educators and economic development professionals gathered at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center June 1 to plant the seeds of a regional internship program aimed at strengthening the local workforce and promoting the Columbia Gorge as a place to live, work, play -- and operate a business!

The workshop was sponsored by The Oregon Talent Council in conjunction with Regional Solutions Oregon.

"One of the biggest challenges for employers today is recruiting high-quality employees to meet workforce needs," says Kathy Ursprung. "It is the same here as it is across the country. And the community that develops supportive strategies to help meet those workforce needs has a leg up in the recruitment and retention of business."

The Port has consistently heard about workforce challenges from industrial area businesses. That's why we agreed to host this workshop in partnership with Columbia Gorge Community College.

Jody Christensen, from the successful McMinnville Works internship program, led the workshop, helping locals identify assets and needs as a first step toward establishing the internship program.

The organizing effort will be overseen by a steering committee representing Gorge employers including Cloud Cap Technology, Insitu, Mid-Columbia Producers and Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue.

"Solid business backing is critical to the success of this program, so we want to be sure it meets business needs," Kathy says.

If you would like to know more about the Internship Program or be involved, please contact Kathy Ursprung at kathy.ursprung@portofthedalles.com or 541.298.4148.

Wilson Supply
Adds Port Location

Wilson Orchard & Vineyard Supply has established a new store at 210 Webber Street, alongside Fastenal, in the Port industrial area.

Wilson Supply"Wilson's is a one-stop solutions provider for commercial orchards and vineyards, offering a full suite of irrigation, planting, development, and harvesting equipment and supplies, as well as irrigation systems designs," Joe Perry, Wilson's CEO told The Dalles Chronicle.

He also praised the community for helping ease Wilson's entry into the local market.

Wilson, based in Yakima, Wash., now has eight stores in Washington, Oregon and California. Its The Dalles store is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and Saturday from 8 to noon.

System Development Charges 101

What are system development charges? What do they do? What don't they do? Who must pay them and how are the amounts determined? The Dalles Planning Department encounters quite a bit of confusion about System Development Charges, and because much of the business at the Port of The Dalles Industrial Area involves new development, we'll try to answer a few of those questions here -- with the help of the city's desk planner.

What is a System Development Charge (SDC) and what does it do? An SDC is a charge assessed on new development to help pay for increasing public infrastructure  (roads, water, sewer, parks, etc.) capacity.

What doesn't an SDC do? It does not pay for the cost of individual connections to public infrastructure. For example, a new building hooking up to the sewer system would pay for the cost of actual sewer and water connections separately in addition to any SDCs.

Who pays SDCs? SDCs are most typically assessed on new developments, however a change in building use can also trigger SDC charges if the change alters the way infrastructure is used. Check with Planning whenever a change in use occurs.

How are SDCs assessed? That depends on the kind of infrastructure. Water SDCs are based on meter size. Sanitary sewer charges and transportation charges are based on type of business; e.g., restaurant, lodging, office, industrial, etc. Stormwater charges are based on square footage of impervious surface; i.e., roofs and parking lots. Park SDCs apply only to residential and lodging units developed.

Another cost that comes into play during new development is a special tax assessed for public schools. It is not an SDC because SDCs can only be used for new capacity, while this tax can be used for maintenance.

In addition to SDCs, most construction  requires building permits, which also involve a fee. The Building Codes Department at the Mid-Columbia Council of Governments has a frequently asked questions section here on its website.

Both The Dalles and Dufur have SDCs, but their programs vary. For more information on The Dalles' SDCs, contact the Planning Office at 541.296.5481, then press "2". In Dufur, contact Dufur City Hall at 541.467.2349.

Real Estate Closings Slow
Under Appraiser Shortage

Appraisers may not be something you think much about -- until you need one, that is. And when you do, you may find that hiring one isn't as easy as it used to be.

A nationwide shortage of appraisers has prompted the Oregon Legislature to ask the U.S. Congress for relief from some stricter qualification requirements established in 2011.

In House Joint Memorial 3, Oregon's 79th Legislative Assembly told Congress that a shortage of real estate appraisers in Oregon is impeding the real estate closing process.

Mortgage lenders depend on appraisers to determine the value of property upon which they are lending. Delayed closings are costing buyers and sellers money and, in some cases, even scuttling deals, according to a CNBC report.

The national Appraisal Institute reports that the number of real estate appraisers has decreased by nearly 23 percent since 2007. And with 62 percent of appraisers age 51 or older, retirements are expected to deplete that number even more in coming years. Rural areas are hit harder than urban areas.

Appraisal-related issues in closure delays have increased by 50 percent from April to September of last year.

The Legislature asked for relief from the requirement that appraisers have a four-year college degree. The Legislature also supported development of an alternative track for progressing from State Licensed Appraiser to State Certified Professional Appraiser, as proposed by the Appraiser Qualifications Board of the Appraisal Foundation. The proposal would reduce the number of experience hours required to obtain each appraiser credential and the time period during which those hours must be obtained.

The decline in appraisers is largely due to new regulations designed to safeguard both banks and borrowers put in place at the end of 2008 by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA, in the wake of the financial crisis. The rules no longer allow appraiser apprentices to do full appraisals, requiring the licensed appraiser to be on-site. As a result, appraisers no longer need to pay their interns or apprentices; however, those apprentices need to complete 2,500 hours of experience within two years.
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