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Breakfast forums, an annual bike tour and more are on West Economic Alliance's 'to-do' list for 2020

PMG FILE - Brantley DettmerWestside Economic Alliance (WEA) wishes you a happy new year. As the last decade closes, a look back shows how much our organization has changed.

With a small staff and a budget of less than $400,000, the organization has increased its impact by focusing on its ability to bring people and ideas together to build on the economic viability of our region.

WEA focuses on legislative agendas, transportation, land use, housing, and economic development issues. It has three active committees, providing expert information and opportunities for its members to provide feedback.

The upcoming year will bring many opportunities to provide insight and discussion on all issues. On Jan. 16, Legacy Health will be sponsoring WEA's Legislative Reception, which will focus on key issues the Oregon State Legislature is expected to address in the upcoming short session. This reception will be a great opportunity for WEA members to get to know the legislators in a casual setting, as well as have the chance to learn about the issues.

It is also a time when legislators can learn more about Westside Economic Alliance and its members' priorities in the coming year. I'm looking forward to an active discussion with good food and drink.

The WEA Transportation Committee has been closely following the work of Metro's "Get Moving 2020" Transportation Funding Task Force. The task force was formed to study a possible regional transportation funding measure. From its recommendations, the Metro Council is expected to forward a measure to voters this November. Many of the task force members are also active members of the Westside Economic Alliance. In the fall, the WEA Transportation Committee will make its recommendations to the Westside Economic Alliance Board of Directors regarding the endorsement of the measure. The committee will also receive updates from ODOT, TriMet, and Washington County regarding projects throughout the year.

In the coming year, WEA's Land Use and Housing Committee will be following the implementation and progress of the 2018, $653 million, regional affordable housing bond. The committee will also be monitoring other projects and issues. Also, our Westside communities are expected to present information to the committee regarding housing, land use, economic and community development, plans for the urban growth boundary expansion areas, and provide local tours.

Like many organizations, WEA has been working to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion. This past year we worked to be more inclusive by reaching out and inviting members of Washington County's Civic Leaders Project to Breakfast Forums and other events. This program is a partnership with Adelante Mujeres, focusing on training underrepresented communities in the county. This has been a positive experience and has truly added to the discussions and engagement during our forums.

Speaking of Breakfast Forums, plans are underway for another robust year of events. Last year we held 10 forums. We heard from local elected officials, our congressional delegation, and business leaders. The audience reviews were high and provided us with suggestions for new forum topics.

Our special events coming up include our annual Westside Golf Scramble in July and the Westside Economic Alliance Economic Development Bike Tour in the fall. We're in our third year of using both sides of The Reserve Vineyards & Golf Club for our annual fundraiser, but it's actually the 34th year of the golf tournament. By using both sides of the golf course, the pace of play has picked up significantly. It continues to be an extremely popular and successful fundraising event, so watch for sign up information, and please join us.

The WEA Economic Development Bike Tour changes location from year to year in an effort to showcase the economic development in different parts of the region. The ride is police escorted, 13-16 miles in length, and includes three to five stops at local businesses to learn about their products and the issues growing businesses face. It starts with lunch and ends with appetizers and beer.

We're looking forward to a strong year at Westside Economic Alliance. If you're not a member and want more information, you can check out our website at www.westsidealliance.org or call 503-968-3100. Let's make 2020 the beginning of something wonderful together!

Brantley Dettmer is the Chief Operating Officer of Kaiser Permanente's Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro, and board president of the WEA. Learn more about the WEA at: westsidealliance.org


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