Any vendor or chef knows that presentation is everything. Wares require something extra to attract a buyer, rather than shoppers who take a look before passing on.
Members of The Partnership for Economic Development in Douglas County are hoping they’ve hit on that certain something for three vacant parcels for sale in the center of the county.
What each parcel has secured sounds like a mouthful of bureaucracy: designation as a regionally significant industrial area. The label is more than a collection of syllables, however. It means that state officials have flagged a property as a good location for industrial development.
The three Douglas County properties so designated can count on protected industrial zoning status. They can get an inside track on state permits as well as state infrastructure funds. That makes each one more likely to get a second look from investors prepared to launch job-producing commercial ventures.
And that’s certainly something our county could use.
Two of the sites are in the Sutherlin area. One is the county-owned Sutherlin Industrial Park, a former airport consisting of 32 acres on Taylor Road north of Interstate 5’s Exit 135. The second is a 200-acre plot northwest of Sutherlin in the 600 block of Stearns Lane. It’s in the Sutherlin-Oakland Enterprise Zone and is owned by the Alaska Sutherland Knolls Corp.
The third site earning the designation is the Back Nine Development, a 130-acre parcel on Del Rio Road owned by Douglas County Forest Products.
Though they are diverse in size and character, the sites share certain features. All are handy to I-5 and all can boast local infrastructure improvements that represent advantages to potential investors.
In some cases, transportation adjustments may be required. And some proposed uses might require additional paperwork with the nearest city or the Department of Environmental Quality. For the most part, though, the sites offer “superior” access to highway, rail, water, sewer and power services, according to Business Oregon, one of two state development agencies approving the designation. Business Oregon also characterized the sites as having “superior potential for rapid job creation” within the region, among the best in rural Oregon.
Some of the uses economic analysts have proposed for the sites are sustainable building products, warehousing and distribution and manufacture of flat glass or glass containers. The Stearns Lane site features space for a large, campus-like setting as well as sturdy Internet and power thresholds.
This type of commerce sounds far more promising than yet another roadside motel-eatery-gas station troika.
It remains to be seen how valuable the designations can be. Still, it’s encouraging that the county scored three of the 15 or so sites the state plans to tag in efforts to show what Oregon has to offer companies with dollars to invest.
We’ll take and be grateful for any advantage that could put more of our residents back to work.