New Sherwood economic development manager sees opportunity
When Bruce Coleman arrived in Sherwood to become the city's first economic development manager in nearly a decade, he immediately noticed the city's great potential.
"I love it here," Coleman said during a recent interview. "The quality of life here is so high and that's so important to businesses."
Several weeks ago, Coleman made a presentation to industrial and commercial real estate brokers in Portland about the advantages of locating in Sherwood. He highlighted the Cipole Road Industrial Park projects where Phelan Development, a California-based company, has begun construction. That development will feature three new industrial buildings totaling 235,875 square feet on a nearly 12-acre site on the north side of Southwest Tualatin-Sherwood Road, between Cipole Road and Wildrose Place.
"I think there there's a lot of opportunity in Sherwood," Coleman said. "I see some opportunity here to (take) a comprehensive approach to economic development."
Also on the radar in Sherwood are plans by Trammell Crow to build five buildings on the southwest corner of Tualatin-Sherwood Road, something Coleman called "really exciting." He also noted plans to build an industrial business park on 38 acres on Southwest Oregon Street, just south of Tualatin-Sherwood Road.
A New Jersey native, Coleman is no stranger to boosting city economic profiles.
He most recently worked as director of business development for the McKinney Economic Development Corp. in McKinney, Texas, focusing mainly on industrial projects — including the first phase of an industrial park.
Coleman said the city worked hard to get a pet medical product manufacturer from California to relocate to the Texas city of 190,000 residents.
"We just really encouraged them to come," he said. Eventually, the company did.
Prior to that, Coleman was economic development director for the city of Murrieta, California, in the wine country of the Temecula Valley. There, he helped attract the Loma Linda University Medical Center to purchase a 40-acre site in that city, where they built the first phase of a hospital.
In addition, Coleman helped woo Kaiser Permanente, whose headquarters are in Oakland, California, to locate in Murrieta as well, and he encouraged the Children's Hospital of San Diego to build a pediatric facility there.
But one of his biggest successes in Murrieta was setting up a tech incubator — helping startup companies by providing them with services — in a vacant 18,000-square-foot building, which attracted a television station from a local college, along with a veterans' business assistance office, a women's business assistance office and a makerspace, a site that offers the needed tools to help workers to create specific projects.
Coleman said Murrieta residents moved to that part of California because of the high-quality schools the city offered, as well as its affordable homes. He pointed out, however, that while 42% of the Murrieta residents had bachelor's degrees or higher education, that figure is even higher in Sherwood. Some 56% of Sherwood residents have at least a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
"That's really an impressive number," Coleman pointed out.
For Sherwood, Coleman wants to get technology companies to look at locating in the city, especially advanced technology-focused manufacturing and companies specializing in research and development.
He said the goal of the 300-acre Tonquin Employment Area on the east side of the Southwest 124th Avenue roadway extension is to encourage light, clean industrial use for that area, along with providing good family-wage jobs. That will likely include smaller tech companies, he noted.
Also of interest to Coleman is creating "co-working" opportunities throughout the city, with a focus on providing the city's many home-based businesses with a larger, fully equipped space where business-owners could come and work at times.
Coleman said he'd also like to see more walkable, mixed-use spaces in Old Town Sherwood, along the lines of having retail ventures on the ground floor with residential space on the top floors.
Even still, he said he wants to make sure the city doesn't neglect the businesses already there, stressing the importance of business retention and expansion in the city.
"The ones we have here, we need to treasure them," Coleman said. "We need to nurture them."
Coleman also would like to establish some type of partnership between Portland Community College, Sherwood High School and the city government of Sherwood.
"The more we can grow our own talent here, the better," he said. "This is really a high quality-of-life community."
City Manager Joe Gall said he's pleased to have Coleman on board.
"With the clear direction of our City Council focusing upon economic development, it has been wonderful to have someone like Bruce joining our team," said Gall. "He brings decades of experience to the table and a high degree of energy in working with our business community. We are fortunate that he has joined our organization."
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