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        Oregon City Council last week agreed to make a $70,000 contribution to the Oregon on the Bay Regional Economic Development Foundation.

        The city annually contributes funds to the organization, described as a public-private partnership between the business community and the city. 

        Mayor Mike Seferian said at a council meeting August 28 that the city has made the same contribution to the Foundation for the last five years.

        The city used to match the amount that was raised by the Foundation, which gets its funding mostly from membership dues and fundraising, but now provides a set amount, said Seferian.

       

Ideal model

        City Administrator Mike Beazley called the partnership an “ideal model” for economic development.

        “There are not a lot of great examples of that across the region,” he said. “I feel good about the process. Economic development is a dicey business with a lot of wishes and things you work on that don’t always quite happen. But they’re such an important partner to us.” He added that the city right now is working with the Foundation on a “major industrial project.”

        “It would be hard to do what we do without that sort of a partner there,” said Beazley.

        Councilwoman Sandy Bihn noted that private funding of the Foundation has decreased over the years.

        “I’m glad that the model is appreciated and beneficial to our community,” she said. “The mayor’s correct. We used to have a matching, and now he’s gone to a flat $70,000 contribution. I’ve noticed for the last couple of years, the amount of the membership dues has remained constant. I think it’s really important for the city to contribute, but I also think it’s important for the private sector to step up and make sure we keep that balance as close to a match as possible.”

       

 More members

        Dave Dorner, the Foundation’s new executive director, was at the meeting.

        “I continue to encourage you to draw more members,” Bihn said to Dorner. “You seem like you’re energetic and I’m hoping you’ll be able to do that. If [the private sector] is putting their money and resources there, they tend to have more of a commitment. It’s just human nature to do that. It makes the Foundation stronger and keeps it stronger. And to let membership wain or fall I think weakens the organization.”

        Dorner was asked by councilman James Seaman to provide his background so that council can get to know him better.

        “I most recently came from the Regional Growth Partnership where I was director of business development,” he said. “That part of economic development was actually working with start-up technologies to create companies to increase jobs and wealth in northwest Ohio. My longer background is running sales organizations. So when you talk about members and investors in an organization, I look at them as customers and I look at trying to create the best organization as possible that provides a value. I’ve been trying to encourage our existing members to get more involved and I know the more they get involved in the organization, the more benefits they’ll reap from it. I’m really trying to solidify that base we have now in our membership. I’ve reached out to everyone. I’ve offered to sit down with them for two hours to understand their business. Beyond looking at their website I can have a conversation with them so I can identify opportunities when I hear them and to be able to support those businesses so they can prosper. Once that base is solidified, then I’m going to put on a large effort in putting more businesses into membership.”

         

        

 

 

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