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Agendas and Minutes

Economic Development Ad-Hoc Committees (View All)

Policy Group

Friday, March 12, 2010



March 12, 2010

Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way




Russ Silbiger called the meeting to order at 9:10 a.m. in the Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way.


Policy Group Members Present:


Staff Present:

Russ Silbiger

John Stromberg

Ric Holt

Mark Marchetti

Jim Klein

Tom Bradley

Annie Hoy

John Fields



Adam Hanks, Project Manager

Martha Bennett, City Administrator

April Lucas, Admin. Assistant




Absent Members:



Wendy Siporen

Dean Cropper

DeeAnn Everson

Pam Hammond

Emile Amarotico

Laurie Gibbs





City Administrator Martha Bennett explained that Staff has compiled approximately 50 potential economic development strategies that have been discussed in previous meetings of both the TAC and the Policy Group and suggested they add any final ideas to the list before they start narrowing this down. She explained the goal is to end up with 6-8 strategies, and clarified the overall plan should take between 5 and 10 years to complete.



Staff presented the draft Vision statement and asked for the Policy Group’s feedback.


Mr. Marchetti commented that the draft Vision statement might be too long. Ms. Hoy agreed and stated for her organization, a vision statement is something you can fit on a t-shirt. Additional comment was made that the draft statement was too status quo. Ms. Bennett explained staff was attempting to provide justification for the strategies that have been presented.


Mayor Stromberg stated they are trying to envision what this community will be like in the future, how it will be different from today, and how it will focus on economic development. Mr. Holt commented that traditionally, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Southern Oregon University, and the Ashland Hospital have been the City’s biggest employers. He questioned whether they wanted to stay with this model or bring in a different strategy. Mr. Holt voiced his support for Ashland focusing on sustainable businesses and stated the City could become a leader in this area. He stated there are new types of industries out there and suggested Ashland look beyond its three main employers and tourism to attract new businesses. Ms. Bennett explained staff was trying to capture the notion that these key industries are still valuable, but the City would like to focus on different areas as well.


Mr. Marchetti commented that vision statements often end up saying the same thing, as all cities want to be livable and have a vibrant economy. He stated he did not see much that was new in the draft Vision statement and recommended they get beyond the boilerplate version of the vision statement and decide what they are going to do to make this statement unique.


Mr. Holt noted the importance of making sure quality of life, sustainability and economic development work together. Councilor Silbiger commented on the reality that the hospital and healthcare are going to be big issues in the future. He stated the growing Hispanic community is also a reality that will happen. Mr. Holt suggested new businesses and entrepreneurs could meet that need, and asked if there are other businesses that could compliment those changes.


Mayor Stromberg asked the group to consider a shift in the quality of life notion. He stated qualify of life has been short hand for amenities, but he believes there is something else going on is Ashland. Mr. Stromberg stated there is something about Ashland that is quite unique; something deeper than the amenities and he believes it is because this is what a real community feels like.


Ms. Hoy presented her suggestion for the Vision statement: “Ashland has a prevailing spirit where small is beautiful, all voices have value, visitors are welcome, and cutting edge ideas germinate and grow.”


The group briefly discussed land use conflicts, such as wanting to limit growth, yet provide affordable housing. Comment was made that the City will need to change how we approach these problems, and there are going to be tradeoffs. Comment was made that the City needs land use changes that increase diversity, not the population. Ms. Bennett noted that she has worked in communities where growth is a strategy, and does not believe this is what Ashland wants. She added we are not pursuing growth, we are pursuing resiliency.


Mayor Stomberg commented on the disconnect between the students of SOU and the community.


Mr. Marchetti shared his concerns about the concept of selecting a community. He explained most people he knows selected a city based on where a job was, and stated if a community has jobs to offer, people will follow. Mr. Hanks noted that the Technical Advisory Committee also had concerns about the lack of job related wording in the Vision statement.


Mr. Bradley noted the word small keeps coming up and asked what they meant by this. He stated 6-8 employees has been identified by many as the optimum group/working size and questioned how Ashland will encourage this scale of business. Mr. Holt commented on creating jobs, and stated the labor markets are changing and jobs are being created by individual activity. He recommended Ashland create an economic social environment that will be attractive to these types of individuals.


Mr. Fields commented on the process in terms of policy and implementation, and questioned if it would be better to scale down the vision statement. He stated government might be one of the obstacles and they need to discuss what it will take for them to move this through the process and put into the strategy what is realistic. Mr. Holt agreed and hopes they will talk about redefining the role of government since the old model does not fit with what they are proposing.


Mayor Stromberg stated he likes the substance in the Vision statement. Mr. Klein recommended the City consider how it fits in with the rest of the region. Ms. Bennett clarified that these are not just going to be City of Ashland action items, and stated other local entities are going to be called upon. She also noted they are not going to want to lose some of the traditional values, but agreed that there are things they will want to change



Staff explained they would compile the latest input and email it out to the group. Mr. Hanks noted the proposed strategy submitted by Mr. Holt would also be submitted to the group.



Staff indicated it will likely be three weeks before their next meeting, and April 2 and April 9 were proposed as possible dates. The group briefly discussed and selected April 2 for their next meeting.



Meeting adjourned at 10:30 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,

April Lucas, Administrative Assistant



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