Call 503.474.6814 - Email us

 

MEDP Spark - Why McMinnville Mattters

Jan 10, 2019

MEDP Spark Volume 4, Issue 1

An aerial view of downtown McMinnville
An aerial view of downtown McMinnville

The start of a new year always lends time to reflect on where we’ve been while also ruminating on where we would like to go. It’s a time for celebration, reflection, aspirations, and a feeling that everything is within our grasp if we just reach far enough. The MEDP (McMinnville Economic Development Partnership) office is located inside the Community Development Center for the City of McMinnville. We’re fortunate to be situated alongside city departments including building, planning, and engineering. Within these walls, we can tell you, the City of McMinnville feels this same spirit of aspiration.

Residents of McMinnville know, there’s a lot to brag about within our city. Whether it be the lowest combined utility rates in the State of Oregon, a flourishing downtown, or a community feeling you just can’t get anywhere else, you have to admit, we have it pretty good here, but this doesn’t happen by accident. The City of McMinnville is the place it is thanks to the dedication of citizens and public servants among us. Beyond this, the City of McMinnville will only continue to be the place that it is with thoughtful planning, engaged community members, and a desire to do what’s right. We wanted to take a closer look into what the City of McMinnville is doing to both preserve and enhance our quality of life while looking at opportunities in the future, and how we as a city, will face new challenges.

McMinnville City Hall in the fall
McMinnville City Hall in the fall

To satiate our curiosity about the future of our city, we first spoke with McMinnville City Manager, Jeff Towery. He started in the City Manager position almost two years ago and found that McMinnville was at a point of “transition.” Like many other cities in the United States, the 2008 recession impacted what the City concentrated on, and what projects had to be put on hold. Though McMinnville fared the recession remarkably well compared to other cities of a similar size, the past few years have been the City’s first chance to address both elements that had been let go during the downturn and to enhance where we were before 2008.

Beginning in 2018, Towery states “there were a number of areas where we as a City felt like we could do more, and that we could do better.” This feeling became the inspiration for what would be dubbed “MAC-Town 2032,” a 15-year economic development strategic plan that will “help us position McMinnville for its next chapter of economic development.” The city chose 2032 because “that is the 150th birthday of the City of McMinnville.” Towery explains the plan saying, “In the past 20 years, the City has changed and grown in a remarkable way.” He pointed to leadership at the City reflecting the community, that there are both areas for praise and areas for improvement as well as what the plan allows for the future.

As part of the strategic planning process, the City held multiple workshops to hear from residents and leadership about their thoughts for the future
As part of the strategic planning process, the City held multiple workshops to hear from residents and leadership about their thoughts for the future

Looking into the future, there is a lot of work the city knows will need to be done, and the strategic plan helped affirm some of that. Towery said that survey results showed citizens wanted the city to focus on “long-term, high impact work.” The goal is to “focus on long-term issues and treat symptoms less.” Though some of this work has already started including completing the projects identified under the transportation bond and investing in new staffing, the plan allows the City to be focused on goals in the short-term, mid-length, and in the long-term.

Going forward, the plan was adopted on January 7, 2019, and will be shared widely to City officials and citizens alike. The actions will be listed in priority order, indicating which actions should be tackled first, and will also help inform the City’s budget for years to come. Along with this, adopting the plan gives the city the opportunity to inform the public about why the strategies are important, and how they will impact us. Towery said that the best thing McMinnville citizens can do to help the City as it moves forward with the plan is to “continue to be engaged.” He said the city saw an uptick in engagement when creating the strategic plan, and he hopes all those who became invested continue to volunteer on boards and commissions. He hopes to “usher in the next generation of public involvement.” Saying, “There’s something for everyone in this plan.”

The Mayor’s State of the City and Awards Reception will be held on January 29, 2019
The Mayor’s State of the City and Awards Reception will be held on January 29, 2019

On January 29, 2019 communities members will be able to hear more about the State of the City and the plans moving forward at the Mayor’s Awards Reception. The event gives the City the opportunity to tell the story of the past year, recognize accomplishments, and say thank you to community members who have created a real impact. The event will be held at the McMinnville Civic Hall from 4:30pm - 6:00pm with a program beginning at 5:00pm. Along with celebrating, the city invites citizens to attend the celebration and give feedback to city officials, at Towery states “the City wants to know, is this the right track? This is an opportunity for us to listen and learn from the community.”

McMinnville Matters is an effort by the City of McMinnville planning department to inform citizens about planning concepts, projects, and places that matter to McMinnville
McMinnville Matters is an effort by the City of McMinnville Planning Department to inform citizens about planning concepts, projects, and places that matter to McMinnville

Along with strategic plans being implemented at the top City level, long-range plans and goals are being implemented in various departments. One such department is the McMinnville Planning Department who has taken on staff, projects, and a look to the future in the past year. With an effort to share more information and engage more local citizens, the Planning Department launched McMinnville Matters, which includes a website, social media, and more information about the ins and outs of planning a city for the future.

Along with more outreach to citizens, the Planning Department also utilized 2018 to begin three Long Range Planning Projects. One of these projects is titled “Great Neighborhood Principles.” According to the Planning Department, the goal of the project is to “identify specific principles [elements or characteristics] that could be achieved in every neighborhood. These principles could include things like walkability, bikeability, housing variety, access to open spaces, connections to commercial uses, and more.” The project has included creating a committee made up of interested community members, sending out surveys, and holding an open house to hear more from local residents. In the end, “The project will result in specific recommendations for the Planning Commission and City Council to consider adopting to ensure that future development projects in McMinnville achieve the Great Neighborhood Principles.”

The McMinnville Matters Great Neighborhood Principles Blog features posts on elements such as bikeability (photo from McMinnville Matters)
The McMinnville Matters Great Neighborhood Principles Blog features posts on elements such as bikeability (photo from McMinnville Matters)

Long range projects have also been developed around Housing Strategy for the City of McMinnville. The project comes in three major components. The first is the Residential Buildable Land Inventory (BLI) which will identify how much land within McMinnville’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) is already developed and how much remains available to meet future housing needs. The second component is the Housing Needs Analysis (HNA) which will identify what the needs are. This means it will look not only at population forecasts, but also the types of housing needed in the future for different income levels, different generations, and more. This will be directly compared to the BLI and will show if the UGB is large enough to fit all of the new housing needs. The third component is a Housing Strategy. “The Housing Strategy will identify ‘how’ to address identified housing needs.”

Within all of these efforts, one goal remains “providing a livable community of great neighborhoods” for McMinnville’s citizens. Work on the Housing Strategy Project is set to be completed in May of 2019. The City of McMinnville Planning Department has made it clear that in order for these projects to be considered a success, they want to hear from the residents of McMinnville. They invite residents to comment on, contribute, and discuss the different elements on the McMinnville Matters Website and social media. Residents can also follow their social media accounts to learn about surveys, open houses, and more opportunities to contribute their opinion.

That idea, perhaps, is one thing that really sets McMinnville apart from other cities. There’s a feeling here that what you do matters. In McMinnville, you can be an engaged citizen. You have the opportunity to attend meetings, join committees, and voice your opinion. To share the turn of phrase from the Planning Department, here, there’s a general consensus that McMinnville Matters and it’s up to us to continue working towards a better future. We’re fortunate to have local government and leaders who agree. So, if you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution, consider joining the involved. Consider taking a part in the future of this community and allowing yourself to dream big on what McMinnville could be.

Does this sound like the type of community you’d like to be a part of? Give us a call today to learn more about doing business in McMinnville.

Subscribe

Subscribe to our blog to get latest news from McMinnville by email

MEDP's monthly newsletter, The MEDP Spark, received a Silver Award from the International Economic Development Council in 2017.

Connect with us

Web Design and Web Development by Buildable