Providing dedicated resources for business needs
Your Business Advocate
Ben Hemson has served as the City of Bend’s Business Advocate since 2016. The third Business Advocate at the City of Bend, Ben is the first point of contact for business owners seeking to address issues or questions with City processes; keeps the local business community up to date with news from Bend City Hall, and provides staffing support to the Bend Economic Development Advisory Board (BEDAB).
Prior to joining the City of Bend, Ben worked on Pacific Northwest energy policy for five years. He has a B.S. from Oregon State University and an M.A. in Public Affairs from the University of Florida.
The Business Advocate’s work is guided by the BEDAB and their three-year Strategic Plan. You can read more about the BEDAB’s work here.
Each week, the Business Advocate shares timely updates with BEDAB members and other local business leaders. Catch the most recent update here every Friday:
Date: August 23, 2019
Council Discusses Juniper Ridge
Juniper Ridge was on the agenda at Council’s work session on Wednesday, focused on facility management at the 500-acre industrial site rather than moving forward on preparing the site for future development as in recent conversations. A couple of weeks ago an unoccupied motor home caught fire at Juniper Ridge, highlighting the concerns about camping in the area. Councilors heard from staff from the facilities management and fire departments at the City. Ultimately, Council directed staff to develop a policy that would relocate these camps off public property. Creation of a policy is a state requirement, expect to hear more about this as it comes back to Council. You can find an overview of the discussion from The Bulletin here.
On the topic of Juniper Ridge, the Juniper Ridge Management Advisory Board met for the third time yesterday. Their first two meetings included a background on the site’s development and policy framework followed by a tour of Juniper Ridge and Redmond’s industrial park. The group is now developing their work plan for review by Council, the first requirement outlined in the resolution brought forward by BEDAB and their working group last year. After the 24 month work plan is approved, the next steps are:
- Review existing agreements regarding the Employment Sub-District use table, CC&R’s, Design Guidelines, ODOT IGA, and other documents governing Juniper Ridge and suggest amendments where necessary after appropriate legal and planning review.
- Developing a vision, land disposition strategy, and framework plan for Juniper Ridge for Council consideration and adoption taking into account prior work and existing legal and regulatory framework.
- Create an in-depth plan for the continued development of Juniper Ridge, including a subdivision plan to coincide with the construction timeline for the North Interceptor.
You can keep tabs on the group’s work here.
Council’s Community Building Subcommittee Meets Monday
We discussed the newly created City Council Subcommittees at this week’s BEDAB meeting. Designed as a way to discuss larger Council policy initiatives with a smaller group of Councilors and committee members ahead of the full Council decision.
The Community Building Subcommittee meets on Monday next week at 3 pm in Council Chambers. You can find a brief agenda here and will hear more about the discussion at the next BEDAB meeting on September 9th.
BEDAB Meeting Schedule
After Monday’s meeting, BEDAB members referred the discussion of a potential construction excise tax on commercial and industrial buildings to the Advocacy Subcommittee. That group meets on Monday at noon in the Council Boardroom. BEDAB will discuss this topic again on September 9th ahead of an Affordable Housing Advisory Committee meeting on September 11th. You can find the Advocacy meeting agenda here.
We also discussed key topics BEDAB will cover through the rest of the year. The overview, available here could change based on what opportunities arise, but please give it a look over and let me know if you have feedback or ideas.
Keeping Bend Businesses in the Loop
Communicating with Business Registration holders via a regular online newsletter is a key way to engage with Bend’s 7,000 businesses and generate feedback on relevant policy. See the below chart to track the Business Registration Newsletter’s reach and reader engagement:
Identifying Business Friendly Policies
The BEDAB brings forward policy feedback and recommendations on issues relating to Bend’s business climate and continued economic development. Here are some notable recent accomplishments:
- System Development Charges (March, 2019): BEDAB urged Bend City Councilors to coordinate with the Bend Parks & Recreation Board, a separate agency, holding off on a planned Parks System Development Charge increase while the city identified transportation infrastructure priorities for 2020-2040. You can read the full letter here.
- Juniper Ridge Next Steps (September, 2018): A working group of business representatives developed a proposal to move forward with development at Juniper Ridge, a 500-acre city-owned industrial site in NE Bend. BEDAB and working group members developed a memo outlining a path forward and presented the conclusions to the Bend City Council in September 2018. You can read the memo here and view the slide deck here. Council adopted these recommendations via resolution in December, 2018, forming the temporary Juniper Ridge Management Advisory Board
- Bend Map Alignment Project (September, 2018): BEDAB weighed in as supportive of a successful effort to align the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Maps, reducing development costs and planning timelines. You can read the full letter here.