Editorial: Local Econmy - Tapestry or quilt, the connecting analogy fits

February 15, 2012

The "tapestry" analogy about the Hood River economy, as ventured by Mark Johnson on page A1, is an appealing and, mostly, appropriate one.

Not to correct Rep. Johnson, but the quilt image might be more to the point. Either way, the fabric idea of a diverse and vibrant economy is a point well taken. A tapestry being a single piece of cloth with a single story or image woven in, a quilt being a multi-piece assemblage of fabric.

Johnson is right that there is much to be optimistic about: Hood River County's unemployment is a percentage point less than the state average (while gas prices are a good seven percent higher. Hmmm.) .

There are frays and gaps in the fabric, sadly; food banks in Hood River valley and in Cascade Locks report greatly increased use. Any discussion of economic successes needs also consider the plight of those who suffer long-term unemployment or under-employment, disability, or other barriers to full and fulfilling employment.

Hood River and the Gorge is a place where those with economic expertise are willing to share what they know; witness the annual Angel Investments that will come around again in April for the fourth year. PubTalk, from the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network, returns Feb. 21 at Solstice in Bingen with an "Ask the Experts" panel (details on page A5).

Opportunities to get involved are numerous. One of the best ways to hear directly about economic development activities is to attend any of the local government meetings such as your port commission or city council.

In Cascade Locks, the port and city are steadily elevating their efforts to work together, with establishment of the Joint Economic Development Task Force, the Downtown Revitalization Committee; and new ideas for sharing costs and cooperating in marketing on issues including a pending electrical rate study and marketing of surplus real estate owned by the two jurisdictions.

In Hood River, another upcoming opportunity to learn about economic development, and get involved, will be the Feb. 22 downtown business town hall meeting 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in City Council chambers, 211 Second St. Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Business Council, this is a chance to hear about chamber activities, ask questions about projects and coming events and learn about a proposed Economic Improvement District for downtown.

Speaking of the Chamber, Friday's Member Appreciation dinner served as a springboard for what should be a successful year for the chamber, led by an energetic board and staff, with President Andrew McElderry and Executive Director Kerry Cobb riding herd. The chamber made some positive changes in its major events of 2011, including Harvest Fest, Hops Fest and Downtown Holidays, and made an effective first foray in branding Hood River as "holiday town of Oregon," a distinction it stands ready to truly cement in 2012.

But the chamber is just one player in the economic developments game. Efforts as such as expanding the Marine Park beach in Cascade Locks and a new grant application for further improvements at Hood River Waterfront Park are reflections of what efforts public and quasi-public groups know they need to take to attract visitors and support and expand local businesses.

Add to that the City of Cascade Locks' support of racing programs and the Port of Cascade Locks' dual efforts to improve bike trails and water sport access. These comprise blocks in a quilt that is Cascade

Locks' nascent resolve to market itself as a destination place for outdoor enthusiasts, among others.

Cascade Locks has its own set of appeals for such tourism, and they complement similar ones in Hood River, increasing the attention deserving of the entire mid-Columbia as a place to recreate and find scenic beauty as well as natural and man-made products and amenities including fresh fruit, fine wine and beer, and high-quality food and lodging - to name just part of why people come to the Gorge.

The beauty of a quilt is you can consider only one or two pieces, or stand back and take them all in. More and more, the Gorge quilt pieces look better and better connected.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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