In a historic moment, two city councils met on Monday night to take united action that could bring more family wage jobs to Hood River County.
The Cascade Locks City Council voted unanimously to expand its Enterprise Zone to include all of the available industrial properties within the county. With that move, any company moving into one of these designated areas will qualify for a break on property taxes for a three-year period, and up to five years under special circumstances.
“I’m really happy with what I’m seeing here. I think it is going to be a good idea to expand the zone, it’s going to be good for the county and good for Cascade Locks,” said Councilor Rob Brostoff, who made the motion to amend the zone borders.
At the same time the Cascade Locks elected body was rendering its decision, the Hood River City Council voted to accept co-sponsorship of the zone. Hood River County Commission Chair Rodger Schock made a brief stop at both meetings to encourage the official action that could pave the way for a glass manufacturing plant to settle into the lower Hanel Mill and bring other job opportunities to the economically-depressed county.
“We are all one county and I see good things happening here,” said Schock in his address to the Cascade Locks Council.
He was joined at the Cascade Locks meeting by District 1 County Commissioner Carol York and Hood River County Economic Development Coordinator Bill Fashing, who will serve as “zone manager” during business development. County Administrator Dave Meriwether attended the Hood River hearing to observe the proceedings.
“Certainly what’s healthy for the entire county benefits Cascade Locks and visa versa. The bottom line is that we as a region can be in a position where we can provide quality jobs,” said Fashing.
The county board will hold a public hearing on the enterprise zone expansion into its territory on Monday and is expected to approve the mapping changes. Under an intergovernmental agreement, policy for governing the zone has been set by Cascade Locks and any further changes will be jointly decided upon. The new zone is made up of 10 square miles of industrial and commercial properties that includes the entire urban area of Cascade Locks and qualifying parcels in Hood River, Odell, Dee and Parkdale.
“We really appreciate the decision Cascade Locks made that will give this county an increased ability for job growth,” said Hood River City Manager Lynn Guenther.
Since last year Hood River county, city and port officials have been negotiating with the City of Cascade Locks for inclusion into the zone. The community applied for the special designation three years ago and was granted one of the 49 zones available within the state. The Oregon legislature set up the zones to cover a maximum of 12 square miles and help non-urban areas where geography would inhibit economic growth. Although the tax breaks offered by the zone are good only for an initial 10-year period, Cascade Locks can re-apply in the future to retain the designation.
The first beneficiary of Hood River County’s zone expansion could be Cardinal Glass Industries, Inc., which has stated its intent to build a window assembly plant on 10 acres of the Hanel Mill property.
The national firm wants to construct a window manufacturing plant of about $100,000 square feet during the summer and fall months and have it ready for operation by he end of 2003.
The plant will provide between 50-75 jobs initially, with more hires expected as production increases.