ONTARIO – The board in charge of spurring economic development along the Idaho border with Malheur County wants to hear from area residents about where and how it should spend $6 million allocated by the Oregon Legislature.
The Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board recently posted a short, online survey to gather input from local residents. Residents can find the survey on the board’s web page at https://eoborderboard.org/
“We want to hear from anyone with an interest in economic development in the border region,” said Shawna Peterson, the board’s executive director.
The four-question survey is one way for the board to reach a broader audience, said Peterson.
“The nature of the questions could fit people who live here, go to school here or own a business here or might be considering doing any of the above,” she said.
While there is no specific deadline for the survey, Peterson said the board would like to “have a good amount of feedback gathered by August.”
“We are trying to identify the needs and barriers to economic development in the border region with a real focus on which ones are tied to our proximity to Idaho because that is the focus of the border board,” she said.
Once results are tabulated, Peterson said, the board will use the information to help select economic development priorities locally.
The questions of the survey run the gamut from what kind of economic development activities people would like to see locally to what are the five biggest challenges to economic development.
The survey will be a good research tool, said Peterson.
“The board has an ongoing interest in meeting what we see as a participation gap,” she said.
Peterson said the board is also considering developing “some kind of leadership program that helps people get engaged in local and statewide policy organizations or civic organizations.”
“There seems there is a gap where we have bills that advance (in the Oregon Legislature) but it is hard for people to feel comfortable testifying. It seems we could do a lot more to help mentor and train people,” she said.
Members of the board include chair Tiffany Cruickshank, a fourth-generation farmer; Bill Johnson, a local farmer who owns Loft Property Management, an apartment management firm; Stuart Reitz, Malheur County extension agent; Treasure Valley Community College President Dana Young; Roberto Gamboa, a director at Euvalcree, a local nonprofit community action group; Ontario Recreation District Director Andrew Maeda; and local resident Ron Haidle, a retired banking executive.
Melisa Drugge of Business Oregon is a non-voting member of the board. Business Oregon is the state economic development agency.
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