I’m typically not a big fan of meetings, especially ones I’ll have to attend. But there are four happening this week that I’m actually looking forward to because of their potential to shed light on and even impact the economic landscape in Douglas County. (Reader Tip: There is a must-read item at the bottom of this column; stay with me please).
The first of the bunch, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, may be the most impactful of them all. The board of directors of the newly formed Umpqua Valley Development Corp. is holding its first public meeting since the nonprofit was incorporated the week before last. The UVDC was formed to help turn the ambitious plans for an allied and mental health college slated for Roseburg — now officially called the Southern Oregon Medical Workforce Center — into a reality.
That entails, to a large degree, raising money. The price tag for the center is $30 million. But anyone who has witnessed these kinds of ventures before knows that amount could very well grow. This summer Oregon legislators approved $10 million for the center — about half of what local officials asked for. Where the balance will come from is unknown.
The effectiveness of UVDC will have a dramatic impact on the economy of this region. Think about it — a university in Roseburg. Dozens of faculty and hundreds of students living, working and spending money in the area. Moreover, the expectation is that many of those students will remain in the area after graduation and work in the medical services industry — a niche labor segment with jobs that have been difficult to fill.
The UVDC will meet at 2 p.m. in the board conference room at CHI Mercy Medical Center, 2700 NW Stewart Parkway.
The second meeting is also scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, when the Roseburg City Council will hold its annual goal setting meeting. I know, goal setting meetings are usually as exciting as watching paint dry. But Roseburg is grappling with some difficult economic issues — a lack of affordable housing chief among them — and this meeting will outline the council’s goals and priorities for 2020 and beyond.
The meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. in the Umpqua Room at the Public Safety Center, 700 SE Douglas Ave. For more information call 541-492-6866 or go to the City of Roseburg website, http://www.cityofroseburg.org/.
The third meeting next week won’t have a direct impact on the local economy but will provide a roadmap for what we can expect in 2020.
The annual Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Forecast, scheduled for Thursday morning, will feature experts from a variety of industries relevant to Douglas County who will recap 2019 and offer economic projections for 2020.
The speakers include: economist John Tapogna, who will discuss the regional economy; Nick Beleiciks, an economist with the Oregon Employment Office, who will discuss local labor; and Jeremy Rodgers, political advocacy director for the Oregon Association of Realtors, who will dissect the real estate industry.
You must buy a ticket to go and the deadline for reserving tickets is Tuesday. For more information go to the chamber’s website at roseburgchamber.com, or call 541-672-2648.
The last meeting, scheduled for Thursday evening, is the one I’m looking forward to most, and not just because beer and wine will be served.
The new owner of the building that housed the old Roseburg Book & Stationery is hosting an informal community gathering to kick around ideas for the space. The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the old stationery store, 549 SE Jackson St. The building has been vacant since April, although Farmhouse Décor, a store featuring farm-style furniture, kitchenware and knickknacks, is settling in their now.
The new owner of the building is Trevor Mauch, CEO of the Roseburg-based company Carrot. Mauch has had accolades heaped on him, including being named one of Portland Business Journal’s top 40 CEOs under 40. He also owns The Loft, a so-called economic incubator in downtown Roseburg.
Mauch posted the following on Facebook:
“I’ve got a big vision for the future of downtown Roseburg, and I know some of you share a similar vision and passion … Right now, we’re in the beginning stages of talking to designers and contractors, and crafting a vision for what the building will become … Thursday is your chance to stop by, hear more about the future of the building, get a quick history tour, and bring us your input for what you’d like to see … I couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds for our community — and I’d love to have you be a part.”
There are already other signs of life occurring downtown, as I’ve written about before. Two brewpubs, North Forty and Salud, can get busy even on weeknights, and there are tasting rooms for those who prefer wine. The restaurant scene is coming into focus too, with several real deal choices available.
Two other venues — The SunnySide, a live music hall, and Craft 22, a high-end catering and event center — are also moving in.
Adding Mauch and his new venture to the mix — whatever he decides to do with that space — could be a game-changer.