City plans to revisit development panel

MONMOUTH -- Monmouth leaders will resurrect a dormant community task force to come up with ways to enhance local economic development.

MONMOUTH -- Monmouth leaders will resurrect a dormant community task force to come up with ways to enhance local economic development.

The Monmouth City Council approved the creation of a 15-person group this summer and will start seeking individuals for appointment this month.

"If things work out the way we want, we'll have a task force going by October or November," said City Manager Scott McClure.

Once formed, the entity will have about six months to come up with recommendations the council could adopt or work toward as long-term goals.

Members will come from different economic sectors, such as retail, real estate and agriculture, McClure said. There will also be a few at-large participants.

"Monmouth's economic base is almost singularly concentrated on Western Oregon University and residential housing, with some retail," said Councilor Cec Koontz. "It's our whole strategy and it's not diversified."

"We want a wider representation of viewpoints on how to strengthen our economy," Koontz continued.

Whether Monmouth can accommodate more industrial development, if broader town amenities could help recruit different commercial interests, and housing are questions the task force will examine.

"Some of the focus is what should Monmouth have more of, what do we consider the best kind of development and how can we do it?" McClure said.

Another is whether the city should re-establish its old Economic Development Commission (EDC).

Monmouth formed an EDC in 2004 and charged it with studying ways to stimulate the economy. It was EDC research that led to creating the city's urban renewal district in 2005. It also devised scenarios for building a new city hall on Warren Street and a regional marketing plan.

Those plans weren't adopted, however, because of cost and logistical reasons and philosophical differences with staff and councilors. Out of frustration, all members of the EDC in 2010 resigned at once.

The council has spent several months trying to define the group's role this time out, McClure said, adding there would be more communication this time.

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