The Niagara of the West: New Energy for a New Century

The Niagara of the West: New Energy for a New Century

December 7, 2017 - Tessah Danel

The reinvention of downtown Oregon City continues at a rapid pace. It’s an exciting time to be in business in Oregon City, as transformation, preservation, and economic acceleration are all on the table.

One of the biggest unknowns—and also largest opportunities for positive change—lies at the south end of Main Street. The site of the former Blue Heron Paper Mill in Oregon City is in need of environmental remediation before the vision of the new riverfront district can be fully realized. This is a heavy lift that requires optimal coordination and investment from highly energized people in the public and private sectors.
Our friends at the Rediscover the Falls—a 501c(3) nonprofit organization created in 2015 by the Willamette Falls Legacy Project—are in the center of the action on this exciting, but demanding, project. In order for the executive team at the bank to get a closer look at the challenges facing the community, Shelly Parini, Executive Director at Rediscover the Falls, invited us on a private tour of the grounds.

“What we are seeing first hand is the move from a legacy industry, in this case paper, to what’s next,” said Jeff Sumpter, Co-President of Lewis & Clark Bank, while standing among the modern day ruins. “While there’s a big tourism opportunity here, a new ‘Made in Oregon’ manufacturing opportunity also exists.”

In 2014, the Oregon City Commission unanimously approved the framework plan and zone change for the 22-acre site adjacent to Willamette Falls. The framework plan and zone change will allow the site’s private owner to invest in a place where people can live, work and recreate—streets, open spaces and plazas will be filled with a vibrant mix of shops, restaurants, offices and housing.
Oregon City’s transformation presents a unique opportunity for 21st-century builders and entrepreneurs. With its rich frontier history, a vibrant retail scene on Main Street, and a largely undiscovered geographic feature all just 12 miles south of Portland, downtown Oregon City offers economic and cultural promise like few other small cities anywhere in the region. Right now, momentum is palpable, funds are being raised, and plans for the future are forming.
The bank is proud to support Rediscover the Falls with better customer service and higher rates of return on their deposits. It’s one small thing in a series of small things that lead to positive change.
Photo credit: Shelly Parini

Tags: community, entrepreneur, leadership, local, Oregon City, relationships