Tremendous growth in the East Metro region with many, especially those searching for detached single-family homes, are moving to the cities of East Metro.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP FILE PHOTO - This once vacant industrial park in Gresham became a parts distribution center for Subaru of America. It is expected to employ 30 people with a possible expansion taking that to 50.

The East Metro region, consisting of Fairview, Gresham, Troutdale and Wood Village is unique and vibrant. Unique in its proximity to both Mount Hood and to Downtown Portland. Unique in its high-tech manufacturing and agricultural jobs. Unique in its cultural and ethnic diversity. Unique in its school, STEAM and CTE offerings.

While the East Metro region often contains the east part of Portland, East Metro is not Portland. It is not Beaverton or Washington County. It is not Clackamas or Clackamas County. It is a distinct area with a distinct cultural identity. Often, for research and statistical analysis, East Metro is often included as a part of Multnomah County, making it more difficult to assess the true need for resources in the area.

There is also tremendous growth occurring in the East Metro region. With the rise in median home prices in Portland, many, especially those searching for detached single-family homes, are moving to the cities of East Metro.

Large employers such as FedEx, Subaru, Amazon and Confederated Tribes of The Grand Ronde have made significant investments in the region. Gresham-Barlow and Reynolds School Districts both had bonds pass to increase security, rebuild schools and add capacity. Rockwood Raising is growing including Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO) winning a $250,000 community grant from Key Bank to provide services to entrepreneurs in the region. In short, many economic indicators are signaling growth of the East Metro region — though without coordinated research, it is difficult to articulate the needs of the area for policy making purposes.

The East Metro Economic Alliance (EMEA) saw this as an issue and wanted to do something about it. The vision was to create an event that brought together leader, influencers and decision-makers in the region to discuss its growth, develop a strategic framework for collaboration and ensure equitable economic growth. The vision sought to commission targeted research specific to the East Metro region to serve as a baseline for addressing and prioritizing regional needs. The vision sought to encourage collaboration as more jobs mean more residents and more residents mean more students and more students means more traffic and so on and so forth. EMEA wanted everyone's voice to be heard so that those in East Metro, with its distinct intensity, can have a say in how it will grow.

Thus, the East Metro Economic Prosperity Forum was born.

Be with you May the 4th

The East Metro Economic Prosperity Forum (The Forum), to be held on May 4th, 2018 from 8 a.m.- 2 p.m. at the Rockwood Boys and Girls Club, is the first ever convening focused on development of a strategic framework for the economic future of the East Metro area. Engaging economic development, business, industry and community leaders from Fairview, Gresham, Troutdale, Wood Village and beyond, the purpose of this interactive workshop is to promote a collaborative, proactive approach in shaping the area's long-term economic future.

The Forum will cap a targeted research effort launched by EMEA in January 2018. Working with PSU's Institute for Metropolitan Portland Studies (IMS) and NXT Consulting Group, the process has involved interviews with area economic leaders, background research on key data and metrics, and a targeted "environmental scan" of emerging economic and business trends — all leading up to a dynamic, action-oriented conversation among participants, addressing among other things the issues of social and economic equity.

The final outcome will be a summary of key findings, a short list of strategic initiatives for potential implementation by key players developed and prioritized by workshop participants, and a framework for future planning and collaboration for use by public, private and civic organizations across the East Metro area.

EMEA is committed to promoting collaboration among all stakeholders — government, business, nonprofit, education and citizens alike. EMEA is committed to the equitable economic prosperity of the region and are very excited to host such a convening.

What really excites me, personally, is the excitement from the entire community once this event was announced. From the sponsors including Port of Portland, Mt. Hood Community College, Home Forward, Kohler Meyers O'Halloran, Inc., Pamplin Media Group, AXIS Design Group, TriMet and others who are helping to commission the research, to the Rockwood Boys and Girls Club for hosting the event, to Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Jeremy Hays for being featured speakers, to the EMEA Members who have worked tirelessly on this. The region has come together to say we believe in economic development and not only will our region be prepared for future growth and for equitable growth but also, we, East Metro, will grow together.

Jarvez Hall is the Executive Director of the East Metro Economic Alliance and an Instructor of Social Entrepreneurship at Warner Pacific University. He can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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