The Port of Hood River’s economic development goal is to interact in the economy of Hood River County by stimulating and working with the private sector, by providing public facilities, and by cooperating with the other agencies and institutions of government – state, county, cities, and regional groups – to help achieve the public purposes under ORS Parts 280 and 777.
The Port pursues this objective by developing shovel-ready industrial sites; renovating industrial buildings; providing transportation infrastructure; assessing and responding to market conditions; providing community facilities that include waterfront parks and recreation sites; encouraging workforce education and training; and sustaining the business communities both within the Port District and the Columbia Gorge region.
The Port’s overall aim is to support countywide economic goals to work toward a balanced economy, while maintaining the community’s quality of life, both through capacity building and through support of jobs and job related skills. This includes retaining and expanding existing businesses to enhance the area’s traditional economic base, and seeking value-added opportunities that foster growth in wages and employment. The Port also strives to diversify and grow the economic base by attracting new businesses that are well suited to the local workforce and infrastructure, and are compatible with community values.
The Port supports efforts to ensure access to high quality education and training opportunities for area residents and workers, and create opportunities for youth to remain in their communities.
The Port works with a variety of other economic development entities, including Hood River County Economic Development Group (Hood River EDG), Mid-Columbia Economic Development District (MCEDD), Mt. Hood Economic Alliance (MHEA), Oregon Investment Board (OIB), Mid Columbia Council of Governments (MCCOG), North Central Regional Solutions Group, One Gorge Advocacy Group, Gorge TransLink, and other ports and local businesses to integrate its efforts with other planning and recruitment strategies in the area.
The Port District is within Hood River County, located 60 miles east of Portland, Oregon, in the heart of the scenic Columbia River Gorge. The Port and its light industrial waterfront property are located on the county’s northern border, which sits on the Columbia River shoreline. A business locating in Hood River County provides its employees and their families the opportunity to live in a spectacular setting that attracts visitors and outdoor recreationalists from all over the world.
As Hood River County’s primary economic development engine, the Port focuses on developing light industrial properties. One prime example is the 21-acre Diamond Fruit Complex, a dilapidated downtown Hood River canning operation purchased by the Port in 1984 and transformed into modern facilities that have housed GorgeNet, Insitu, Embarq, Full Sail Brewing Company, DaKine Hawaii, Electronics Assemblers, Turtle Island Foods and many other signature Hood River companies. The cannery’s redevelopment sparked the successful urban renewal project that created the downtown Hood River improvements that are enjoyed today.
Other Port business parks and projects include Wasco Business Park on the city’s west side, John Weber Business Park in Odell and Hood River Waterfront along the Columbia River shoreline. Private firms provide more than 200 jobs in these facilities, generating an annual income that exceeds $7.5 million.
Hood River County’s current (2015) population is 21,533 residents. Per capita income is $24,151. The county enjoys a moderate climate. The Port of Hood River owns the majority of the county’s developable light industrial property, which is available for lease or purchase.
Businesses in Hood River County take advantage of a large, qualified and enthusiastic work force. Employees are drawn from the entire Columbia Gorge region, which includes Wasco County to the east and Washington’s Klickitat and Skamania counties to the north. This results in a full labor supply of over 42,500 persons.
Hood River County’s workforce is known for its broad range of skill levels, low turnover rate and low cost. Hood River County continues to draw people in search of a better life. Hood River County and surrounding counties offer new and expanding companies a variety of programs to assist with recruiting, screening and training qualified personnel.
Hood River County lies astride a major east-west transportation corridor – the Columbia River. Interstate 84 and railroad service run parallel to the Columbia. At 100 feet above sea level, I-84 is the only east-west route through the Cascade Mountain Range that does not include a mountain pass. State Highway 14 serves motorists on the Washington side of the river. The Port owns Hood River Interstate Bridge, which connects Oregon to Washington, I-84 in Oregon to Washington’s State Highway 14. The bridge is located within one-half mile of the Port’s Hood River waterfront property.
The Port owns Ken Jernstedt Airfield, located about five miles from the Port’s waterfront property. Portland International Airport is approximately 50 miles west of Hood River on the east side of the Portland metro area.
Quality, abundance and affordability describe Hood River County’s infrastructure and utilities. Each year, as populations expand, utilities and infrastructure continue to be upgraded. Modern facilities are in operation for water/sewer, power, natural gas and telecommunications, all available at competitive rates.