Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Get out of town

The leaders of Keizer, especially members of the city council, don’t like to try new things unless or until they’re been done somewhere else. What is Salem doing? is a regular question when policy questions are discussed at the council level.

It’s a policy that suits Keizer—why take the risk of being first when we can benefit from what other municipalities already know? We may ask the leadership of other cities how they handle a particular issue. When it comes to infrastructure and development ideas the leaders of city staff and the city council should keep an eye on what is done in the places they travel (whether the trip is official or personal).

Keizer as a city is not unique. There are thousands of suburban towns across the country that serve as bedroom communities for larger cities. Every tangible issue Keizer faces has been addressed in a similar city somewhere else. Our community is poised to build a large playground project at Keizer Rapids Park because someone saw one elsewhere and talked about it here. What other ideas can be borrowed from somewhere else?

The things our traveling leaders should observe include public art placement, commercial signage, curb appeal of business areas, amenities in city parks and the like. Collectively our leaders could put forth many ideas for what to do in Keizer.

What cannot be observed by city officials are municipal policies. That takes communication at seminars, training sessions and conferences. What are like-sized cities doing to fund their 9-1-1 obligations? What are  cities doing to actively recruit businesses (and jobs) to their towns?

This is a good thing to keep in mind for the members of the newly created Economic Development Commission. The commission, which will meet only four times a year, is charged with, among other things, to create development incentives for Keizer and create outreach to recruit targeted industries to locate in Keizer.

The members of the commission should leave no stone unturned, no expert unquestioned, no resource unread, no idea dismissed out of hand. We believe one of the duties of the commission is to know what Keizer has to offer now to businesses considering a Keizer address. Commissioners need to know their product from River Road—south to north—to Keizer Station and all points in-between.

The main question that should be asked of targeted business is: “What is needed in Keizer for you to move here?” As a city we can sell what we have but if it is not completely what a business is buying, we need to consider our course of action. That’s a good job for the Economic Development Commission and our city leaders as they consider a local, a regional and a national recruiting strategy.