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Economic Development group formed as two others disbanded


Of the Keizertimes

Two Keizer committees have been kicked to the curb.

Or, at least the KURB.

During Monday night’s Urban Renewal Agency meeting, agents unanimously voted to dissolve the Keizer Urban Renewal Board (KURB). During the Keizer City Council meeting that followed, councilors – the same people who were the agents earlier – unanimously voted to dissolve the River Road Renaissance Advisory Committee (RRRAC).

The dissolutions had been delayed until the new Keizer Economic Development Commission (KEDC) could be established. That also happened during the longest council meeting in quite a while, lasting past 10 p.m.

The two dissolved groups hadn’t exactly been hotbeds of activity of late. KURB hadn’t met since November 2011, while RRRAC hadn’t met since March 2012. Membership on the dormant groups had become something of a problem in the past year, since some people wanted to serve on a third committee but couldn’t because they were on two already – even a dormant one.

One odd timing came up Monday in that the KURB dissolution was up for a vote before the formation of the KEDC.

“For some time, the issue has come up about KURB and also RRRAC,” city attorney Shannon Johnson said during the KURB discussion. “Moving forward given the circumstances with urban renewal funds, we moved forward with KEDC coming up. It’s a minor chicken and egg problem tonight with this coming first.”

Johnson noted terms for all KURB members had expired and none had been replaced, so technically there were no KURB members anymore.

Following a lack of discussion, KURB was disbanded.

The RRRAC dissolution resolution was part of the consent calendar during the regular council meeting and led to no discussion.

The idea of KEDC has been a year in the making. In February 2013, it was recommended to merge KURB and RRRAC, but it was decided to postpone taking action until council goals were set.

The next month, councilors adopted their 2013-15 goals.

One short-term goal was to create a Business Advisory Committee (BAC). The name was later changed to KEDC, given the negative connotation of BAC.

KEDC was discussed several more times, with the most in-depth discussion coming at last month’s council work session.

At that time a consensus was reached in terms of the committee’s purpose, membership and role.

Staff was then directed to bring back a formal resolution for councilors to vote on at Monday’s meeting.

The committee will consist of nine members: one councilor, two Keizer Chamber of Commerce representatives and six citizens-at-large. KEDC will meet quarterly, or more if deemed necessary.

One of the main goals for KEDC will be to identify, address and use community resources to pursue job creation and retention. Outreach efforts will be made to target industries, development incentives will be created and regulatory barriers to jobs will be remedied.

“It is what you said it would be,” Nate Brown, director of Community Development for Keizer, told councilors.

Council president Joe Egli opined it would be good to have a Chemeketa Community College liaison on the committee, even in a non-voting role.

“One thing we heard from the business community was the need for education and work force development,” Egli said.

City manager Chris Eppley said there’s “no reason” such a person couldn’t be invited to attend.

Councilors voted unanimously to establish the KEDC.