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Yamhill County strategizing economic development plan

Law allocates video poker revenue from all of Oregon's 36 counties to economic development

Nov 2, 2012


By The News-Register Editorial Board

The video poker revenue allocated to Oregon's 36 counties is, by law, dedicated to economic development.

However, economic development is a concept with a lot of s-t-r-r-r-r-r-e-t-c-h in it. To get a good idea of just how much, you need only take a gander at some Yamhill County budgets from recent years.

Patrolling the Yamhill River for wayward water skiers and over-exuberant jet-skiers? You bet.

Helping local veterans get the benefits their service to our country entitles them? How could we say no?

Tracking down deadbeat dads and wringing some coin out of them for the kids? Clearly a worthy cause.

But the three lay members of the Budget Committee began to fear this county, like other financially strapped counties around the state, was stretching an admittedly elastic concept past its logical breaking point. They began lobbying their elected commissioner colleagues to give the allocation a more definitive focus with a closer economic development orientation.

To their credit, the commissioners took heed. And they came up with a gem of an idea — contract with the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership to develop a countywide economic development strategy. That planned has blossomed into a Grow Yamhill County work group.

To be sure, the county isn't funneling its entire $250,000 video poker kitty into the new cause, only $107,000. But it is ensuring the rest is more directly tied to economic development, which represents an important step in the right direction.

Jody Christensen, who heads the MEDP, was quick to applaud the move.

"We looked at a need to have an economic development strategic plan so we could really know where we are today and where we want to go — a road map, basically," she said. And she said that would be Mission One for the new group.

The group has been given a lineup that could hold its own with the '27 Yankees. A veritable who's who of Yamhill County, it includes leading lights from all manner of local business and government entities.

We welcome the renewed focus on economic development, which is how the Oregon Lottery was sold to the public in the first place back in 1984. More particularly, we applaud the Grow Yamhill County concept, thinking it could be just what the doctor ordered for an ailing local economy.

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