Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Woodburn Economic Development Department partners with regional cities and businesses to create an employment hub

PMG FILE PHOTO - Woodburn economic development members teamed with cities and businesses of the region to develop a employment website focused on north Marion County.With a focus on getting people into the appropriate jobs, the North Marion Employment Hub was recently introduced and figures to be a boon to employers and workers alike.

Woodburn Economic Development Director Jamie Johnk described the hub as a collaborative effort her department developed in conjunction with other cities and businesses around the region. The idea is to work through the challenges of meeting employment needs.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - City councilors in Woodburn all gave the North Marion Employment Hub a thumbs up.

Johnk and Economic Development Specialist Amanda Setzer-Lemon presented the Woodburn City Council with an overview of the hub on Nov. 8.

"It has been such an amazing opportunity for us to work as a region as opposed to just as Woodburn in and of itself," Johnk said. "We've reached out and talked with businesses over the last few years and asked what is your number-one most pressing issue? And it's always finding employees."PMG FILE PHOTO - Woodburn Economic Development Director Jamie Johnk., Woodburn Independent - News

Johnk stressed looking forward and anticipating Amazon moving into the area and bringing a couple thousand jobs in the process, how will that affect other businesses throughout the region? That led some brainstorming.

One advantage Woodburn appears to have is location; the city is located dead set in the heart of the I-5 commuting corridor, defined by Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Marion Yamhill, Linn and Polk counties.

The presentation included some interesting data.

Only about 20% of Woodburn's workforce, 1,680 total, lives and works in Woodburn. About 80% of the workforce that lives in Woodburn, 7,953 total, work elsewhere in the region. Johnk also shared that 6,557 workers live elsewhere but work in Woodburn.

"We know a lot of individuals are coming in to work at the Outlet Mall," Johnk said.

Other data gathered by the hub developers included average commutes – about 30 minutes – and the labor force age, which Woodburn's tends to be younger on average than the surrounding area.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Amanda Setzer, Woodburn Independent - News

"When we are looking at job availability, we need to go out about 30-minute commute time in order to target the workforce we are wanting to bring into the area," Johnk said. "Most of the Woodburn workers commute from the area directly around Woodburn; Salem-Keizer area."

The data was used in creating the employment hub, which is focused on nine communities in the area, including Hubbard, Gervais, Donald, Aurora, St. Paul, Mount Angel and Silverton.

"This is the same footprint we used, the same collaborative group that we used for the tourism (promotion)," Johnk said. "We are representing these smaller rural communities that really don't have anyone representing them now. We are in constant competition for promoting and bringing in employment opportunities with Salem area and the Portland metropolitan area to the north."

Competitive edge

Hub constructors felt that despite the region having good jobs available, the competition with the larger areas can pose a disadvantage. The employment hub is designed to offset that. Setzer-Lemon shared incipient user data gathered by the nascent hub indicating that most visitors to the webpage are from Portland, followed by Salem, and Woodburn.

"Our main goal is to connect the employee with an employer in our region," Setzer-Lemon explained, drawing up the hub's website for illustration. "We have three different categories that we can search for jobs."

The categories include a tab with all jobs and tabs that break down jobs by company and on that breaks it down by sectors; the eight sectors include agriculture, apparel manufacturing, construction, food and beverage manufacturing, general manufacturing, machining and welding, transportation and warehousing and distribution.

The jobs by company tab provides company profiles and information about what needs a given company has. Setzer-Lemon said hub will also have a training element.

"We don't want to just provide employment opportunities: we want to give opportunities outside of that but are still centered around employment," she said. "We want people in our community to know about job fairs, about specialized training, about higher education. We will promote things on here (such as) programs for high schoolers that they can take advantage of or the school system can take advantage of. It may be a program through Chemeketa, or it may be a forklift training, some sort of specialized training."

That will be the hub's next phase, Setzer-Lemon noted. The current phase involves getting the company profiles created and updated and listing the jobs. At the behest of City Administrator Scott Derickson hub constructors also plan to implement a link on site to list volunteer opportunities in the region as well.

"It will be a one-stop shop for job availability in the north Marion County region," Setzer-Lemon summarized.

Check out the resource

Visit the North Marion Employment Hub website at

Contact the North Marion Employment Hub at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-980-6320.

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