By Sierra Lauder
Director of Events and Downtown Development
Some of the aspects of the work I do as Director of Events and Downtown Development are much less glamorous than others. Lucky for me, I adore projects that require lots of policy and program analysis! I thought I’d take a moment this week to bring some of those behind-the-scenes activities that I’ve been working on out in to the public eye.
I currently have the pleasure of serving on not just one, but two ad hoc committees for the Tillamook Urban Renewal Agency in which we are reviewing the TURA grant application process and ways to raise community awareness about TURA. TURA is its own entity that operates in tandem with the City of Tillamook- the agency has a unique budget, independent governing board, specific goals and objectives, and exists for a limited amount of time (25 years). The purpose of TURA is to create funding opportunities to assist and incentivize in the revitalization of properties within the Tillamook Urban Renewal District Boundaries. As a community member, you may find yourself surprised at the number of projects that TURA has been involved in, and even more surprised at the potential that exists for future projects.
The Chamber has been invited to partner with TURA staff and board to revise the application process, looking for ways to make the grant and loan funding that is available more approachable for businesses and property owners. Conversations with Chamber members have highlighted that outreach about the TURA programs and a streamlined application process would be welcomed. Through these committee roles, the Chamber is working with TURA to simplify the process to determine if a project is eligible, increase the clarity of the application process, and support strategies to raise awareness about the opportunities TURA has available. We have made some great progress already, and I am hopeful that as we wrap up these committees in the next few months I will have more good news to report.
Another big behind-the-scenes project has been with the City of Tillamook as they review the sign code ordinance and their performance review process. Both of these areas of the city code are extremely relevant to businesses, and the current language can be confusing and hard to interpret. City Council has spent some time in recent workshops considering these and other possible ordinance amendments, ultimately supporting staff in opening a broader discussion as to what the sign ordinance should look like and what criteria might be appropriate to trigger the performance review process. The Chamber has been happy to participate in the discussions and offer perspective from the business community, and is advocating for simple consistent language that reflects the goals of the City’s Comprehensive Plan.
The Tillamook Area Chamber of Commerce is vested in the vitality of the local economy, and we are diligently cataloging resources and options available for pursuing growth and maximizing stability for entrepreneurs. Sometimes we can point to flashy events and public projects, but sometimes the work is in small committees and the review of big documents. We appreciate the responsiveness of our members, who consistently point out ideas for growth and opportunities to adapt to suit their needs, and are grateful for community partners who keep the door open. If you have questions about these or other projects, feel welcome to give me a call or email any time.