As the current commission president, I’m pleased with what the Port of Hood River accomplished this past year. The waterfront continued to expand with new developments and increased year-round public use of the waterfront trail and parks. Progress is being made on an important industrial park development project in the Mid-Valley, and groundwork for significant development at the Airport is underway.
In the coming year, the Port will enter a period dominated by planning — typical of the cyclical nature of our activities and projects.
It is important now for our Port to think strategically by examining and evaluating the highest and best uses of properties as well as emerging trends in our local and regional economy. The upcoming Spring Planning Session will focus the Port’s resources to continue facilitating strong employment and quality of life opportunities.
We need to aim for projects that can benefit the community by encouraging avenues to job skills training in technology and manufacturing, and then create opportunities for private investment to occur with a labor force to match the demand.
This planning process can establish a foundation on which the community at large, Port staff, and commissioners can debate, discuss, and turn into active planning. Once we have established that foundation, future elected officials can bring their talents to the long term goals when they enter into public service.
In the near term, challenges we face in Port operations center on an aging interstate bridge and completing commercial developments consistent with the needs of our constituency.
There are now close to 400 jobs located at the waterfront and 60,000 vehicles entering the Event Site during summer. We need to follow up with improved wayfinding signage, parking and restroom management, and develop creative approaches to distributing the demands along the entire waterfront.
Spring budget discussions for the Lot 1 subdivision will focus on infrastructure funding and the types of tenants the Port Commission seeks for that location. With public/private collaboration, we can more reasonably afford the required infrastructure, while ensuring employment objectives along with possibilities for educational and workforce development components that could benefit community members seeking skilled employment opportunities.
This is an exciting time to participate with the Port of Hood River. The waterfront continues to grow in jobs and recreation, a Mid-Valley industrial park is being developed and the Airport employment opportunities look promising. We have balanced development with recreation and environmental stewardship.
2017 will be a GREAT YEAR!
Brian Shortt, Port Commission President