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980 jobs created, 35 expansions to existing businesses, 600,000 square feet added in Gresham.

COURTESY GRAPHIC - Gresham Vista Business Park.Last year was a good one for economic development in Gresham, as the city saw an influx in the number of companies and jobs brought to the community.

Staff shared these updates with the Gresham City Council during its policy development meeting Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 14.

Highlights include 28 new companies and 980 jobs created, 35 expansions to existing businesses, 600,000 square feet of industrial space built and more than 1 million square feet of additional space currently being constructed.

"The amount of industrial activity and development has been phenomenal," said Shannon Stadey, economic development services director.

Implementation of Gresham's traded sector jobs strategy serves an important role toward bringing capital investment into the community by enticing new companies and convincing existing ones to expand. The program was adopted by council in 2009 and amended in 2015. The three target areas are manufacturing, technology and professional services.

Some of the new expansions supported by the city occurred at Teeny Foods, Albertson's, SEKO, Arnprior, Wright Business Graphics and Shamrock Foods. Beginning in 2015, there was also a big increase in speculative industrial development — which had been absent since the Great Recession.

During the presentation Stadey also shared trends her Economic Development staff have noticed.

"Tracking trends is important to us because it helps us understand the businesses we are trying to recruit," she said.

For manufacturing companies, there are fewer employees in total due to an increase of automation. Facilities are being consolidated and few are looking to relocate. Logistics and distribution employ more workers and wages tend to be higher than entry level manufacturing positions. These types of companies are increasing in number and looking for more locations.

"Our goal is to check in with the 100 companies we track at least once a year," Stadey said.

Gresham's Economic Development team will continue to build relationships with brokers, developers and potential users.

"Gresham is the place to be for industrial development — thanks in large part to progressive policies set by council in 2014," Stadey said.

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