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The Chamber of Commerce has experienced an increase in membership as the commercial core fills out.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Austin Gibbons pours a beer at FlyBoy Brewery in Tigard.Tigard, nestled among the Portland metro area and next to the Silicon Forest, is a place where many residents commute outside the city to work.

But the town that about 55,000 people call home isn't a place without activity in the business scene.

Debi Mollahan, chief executive officer of the Tigard Chamber of Commerce, has led the organization — which has dozens of members — for 10 years. She credits the success of the city's businesses to the economy doing well.

"One of the changes we have seen in the last year is it is getting increasingly challenging for businesses to hire," she said. "The unemployment rate is so low right now. There is a lot of competition for the employment base out there. Businesses are starting to get creative on attracting quality candidates."

She added, "In our downtown core, we have seen new business come, from moving here to just expanding."

Wags Pet Resort is one of the new kids on the business block, Mollahan said, now located on 12230 S.W. Main St., which provides cage-free doggie daycare, as well as kennel-free boarding options.

Wags isn't the only pet-oriented business in downtown ?— Ultimate Dog Grooming, 12501 S.W. Main St., bloomed from a mobile grooming services to a recently opened brick and mortar location.

More entertainment is beginning to move into the core as well, including an escape room, a vintage pinball at Arcade Club PDX, and a board game store that partners with a pub so visitors can have a beer and play games.

Mollahan said she has seen an increase in businesses joining the Chamber as a way to get to know Tigard's residents through events.

"People are joining the Chamber not only to build connections, but they also believe in supporting each other," Mollahan said. "They are in it for the collective, giving it a community feel."

With Tigard's location at the intersection of major transportation and freight corridors — Interstate 5, Highway 99W and Highway 217 all either touch or pass through the city — getting around is easy, and that's a big boon for local business.

"Businesses are attracting many that are just passing through, going from point A to point B," Mollahan said. "They have three freeways to chose from, making Tigard an interesting place to relocate."

Downtown Tigard is a happening place. City planners are considering ways to "develop urban spaces that provide active and passive recreational opportunities for pedestrians and attract residents and visitors to downtown," according to the City of Tigard.

The centerpiece of this planning work has been dubbed the Universal Plaza.

The park would be big enough to potentially hold big events and have elements like a splash pad, tree canopy maze, artwork and tool-sharing pavilion. Construction could begin as early as 2022 as plans continue to move forward.

Dylan Dekay-Bemis, the city's economic development coordinator, says the outdoor spaces attract many to the outdoors and gets them near local businesses.

"I think Tigard's accessibility and parks and open space separate it from the rest of Washington County," Dekay-Bemis said. "Tigard is centrally located and easily accessible in the middle of numerous major freeways, making it an ideal location for numerous industries that rely on the movement of goods and employees. Tigard's trails and open spaces also separate it from other cities. The Fanno Creek Trail, large city parks and the soon-to-be-built Tigard Heritage Trail provide great opportunities for recreation and leisure."

That is not to forget the indoor recreation possibilities ?— according to Dekay-Bemis, more than 20 businesses offer ways for residents to get their exercise in alternative ways including indoor archery, indoor racing, indoor skydiving, indoor futsal and scuba diving.



By Janae Easlon
Washington County Features Editor
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