Monday I attended a presentation put on at the Clark County Comissioners meeting room. Kelly Sills our Clark County Economic Development director invited Gary Barth from Clackamas County to share his view of the “Economic Landscape”. Barth currently serves as Director of Business and Community Services for Clackamas County, Oregon. His position encompasses a diverse portfolio of responsibilities including economic development, parks, libraries, and other related activities. He directs the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District, a county service district serving 114,000 residents, oversees the County’s 1,000-acre countywide park system (including Stone Creek Golf Course) as well as 3,000 acres of sustainable harvest forest land, and oversees back office systems for 12 city and county libraries including direct responsibility for two county libraries.
With a background in Banking and Financial Services he’s attempted to bring a very detailed methodology to more fully understand what forces are the real drivers of economic development and job creation both within his county, and the entire region. He and his team, with a multi year effort have gathered data from a wide range of sources, including the local GIS, and have some insighful analystics.
Clackamas County has a GPD of almost 16 billion dollars a year and has grown from 12.5 % of the regional economy to 12.8 %.
We sometimes overlook the fact that geography, even within our nine county MSA region can play a huge differrence on the types of companies that might be interested in locating here, or impact the types of use we can make of the exisitng land. He emphasized that the best way to create jobs may be to look at the exisiting assets we have in place companies, developable lands, educational infastructure, work force and find solutions to remove road blocks, rather than lavish resources on marketing and recruiting far away companies.
Many of the conclusions he shared with us seemed to run in tandem with the framework our CREDC has outlined in their recently adopted Economic Development plan. It will be interesting to see if a collaborative effort springs forth to harness his methodology, with Clark County data to give us even greater insights into our economic drivers.
If your interested in viewing a copy of the presentation send me an email.