At the fourth Community Advisory Committee Land Needs Analysis meeting on Dec. 7, ECONorthwest and the City of Creswell shifted their focus from residential to commercial and industrial. Preliminary conclusions found that Creswell will have enough land to accommodate economic growth in both industrial and commercial areas.
The Economic Opportunities Analysis should help the City better understand the ”existing conditions and forecast future conditions to inform: economic development strategy, land use policy and coordination,” according to information presented by Beth Goodman, project director.
”(The goal) is to provide adequate opportunities throughout the State for a variety of economic activities vital to the health, welfare and prosperity of Oregon’s citizens,” Goodman wrote.
In the preliminary findings, the key factors affecting Creswell’s economic growth were low wages and commuting. Only 20 percent of workers at Creswell businesses live and work in the City, and 1,936 commute to Eugene and Springfield.
This in turn could be influenced by Creswell’s relatively low, annual average business wages; Creswell brings in $28,687 to the larger Lane County’s $41,534. Creswell’s highest employing industry, leisure activities, employs over 200 people. Leisure activities include retail and hospitality jobs, which brings in an annual average pay of $15,000.
The average business size in Creswell is 15.5 employees for industrial and 7.8 employees in commercial. Due to the older population in the City as well, around 58 percent of residents are in the labor force.
In competing with the Eugene region for potential businesses, Creswell does have the disadvantage in wages, but it also has the challenges of the railroad crossing, the small existing employment base and loss of businesses.
That said, the City’s proximity to Eugene and Springfield, its connection to Interstate-5, the airport and its access to amenities all work in Creswell’s favor.
The potential target industries that the City wants to attract in industrial zones are the fields of construction and manufacturing, with a specialized example of food and beverage companies. For commercial, the businesses would provide services for residents, such as medical and personal services, retail and restaurants.
Forecasting ahead to the year 2039, Creswell should see a population growth rate of 34 percent, or a 1.49 percent average annual growth rate. The employment forecast is expected to be a mix of industries, due to the land use type and population forecast, and in 2039 is expected to reach an employment level of 2,118 – a 543 employee change from the proposed 2019 level.
To accommodate for employment growth, industrial land must be able to support 84 projected employees with 10 employees per acre and Commercial land must support 227 projected employees with 20 employees per acre – the required land demand is 10 and 14 acres, respectively.
Creswell has 35 acres of total buildable commercial land and 60 acres of total buildable industrial land, which will sufficiently offer support to accommodate future economic growth.
Moving forward, the committee will identify the barriers to growth, such as cost of infrastructure development, and ECONorthwest will start interviewing business owners in town about economic opportunities in January.
The next meeting will be held in January, but has not been decided at this time.