A word from former WEA President Brantley Dettmer of Kaiser Permanente
The year of 2021 was my last year as president of WEA and a year where we moved from "pivot" to "resilience." WEA has been striving to keep its members safe, yet engaged through the pandemic. Its committees continued to meet virtually; forums continued to be online through Zoom; and our work continued to move forward. This is when we have held onto to the philosophy that we are truly better together - supporting, encouraging, and wanting more for our Westside communities, while being safe in our efforts.
- Brantley Dettmer
The Alliance welcomed Metro Councilor Juan Carlos González and Beaverton City Councilor Allison Tivnon onto its Board of Directors.
In an effort to chart a better course for the organization, the WEA Board of Directors took on the task of creating a Strategy Committee for surveying its members, both over-the-phone and through email. The analysis of the survey work found that members want WEA to continue its mission of being an economic advocate in the region. Most everyone agrees WEA's secret sauce is its ability to bring both the private and public sectors together to collaborate on economic policy that benefits the communities on the Westside. Once it is safe to do so, members want to get back to in-person meetings and events where connections can be made.
The WEA Transportation Committee hosted a number of diverse presentations. The committee looked at the Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund (STIF), the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program, Washington County's Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program (MSTIP), the American Jobs Plan, Clackamas County's planning efforts, the Frog Ferry, Highway 217 improvements, and the federal infrastructure package. TriMet's new General Manager James Desue met with committee members and had a good discussion too.
New to WEA's Transportation Committee meetings is a feature presentation on a member's local project. 3J Consulting started the series off in December of 2021 with a presentation on its Walker Road project for Washington County. The featured project is improving Walker Road between 173rd and 185th avenues.
The Government Relations Committee (GRC) hosted a Virtual Legislative Reception in January and began with words from U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. Legislators shared their priorities for the upcoming session. Legislators participating in this event included Representatives Ken Helm, Ron Noble, Dacia Grayber, Susan McLain, Raquel Moore-Green, Sheri Schouten, and Janeen Sollman. WEA members also had the opportunity to ask questions of the legislators, which led to some good dialogue.
As the year progressed, committee members shared the issues their organizations found as priorities, which brought the opportunity to learn from each other on different policies. The GRC held discussions on legislative priorities and procedures, education, energy, water, wildfire, health care, COVID vaccinations, diversity, workforce training, childcare, housing, broadband, transportation, solid waste, and more. The committee worked with Metro officials in educating employers about the implementation of a new tax passed to fund homeless services. It heard from Worksource Oregon's Andrew McGough about a COVID recovery and workforce modernization bill. There were also discussions on the federal government's Build Back Better funding program and the infrastructure bill.
Land Use & Housing
The Land Use & Housing Committee met with key leaders in the region to learn about various activities related to community and business development. It hosted presentations about the Union Gospel Mission's transitional housing for women, Tigard's planning in the Washington Square Regional Center area, Clean Water Services' latest projects, middle housing, Beaverton School District's bond program, West Linn parks, Hillsboro parks, South Hillsboro's housing and commercial development, and Hillsboro's economic development activities.
WEA stayed engaged with its members thanks to the virtual platform. The organization hosted forums about the latest local and state economic forecasts, federal legislation, local issues, and the Interstate Bridge. Presenters included:/
- Economist Josh Lehner,
- ECONorthwest's John Tapogna,
- Washington County economic development consultant John Southgate,
- the Governor's office's Raihana Ansary,
- U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley,
- The Westside Mayors (Frank Bubenik of Tualatin, Jules Walters of West Linn, Julie Fitzgerald of Wilsonville, Jason Snider of Tigard, Keith Mays of Sherwood, Ken Gibson of King City, Steve Callaway of Hillsboro, Lacey Beaty of Beaverton, Jef Dalin of Cornelius, Stephanie Jones of Banks, Pete Truax of Forest Grove, Teri Lenahan of North Plains),
- Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici,
- Congressman Kurt Schrader,
- Interstate Bridge Replacement Program Administrator Greg Johnson,
- Oregon Representative Susan McLain,
- and Washington Senator Annette Cleveland.
More than 900 registrations were taken over the course of the year.
The Virtual Forum series was sponsored by
Fundraising Event - The Westside Golf Scramble
One of the events WEA members look forward to each year is the annual Westside Golf Scramble. This year's event theme was "bursting the bubble," and it was held at The Reserve Vineyards & Golf Club in Aloha at the end of August. The field once again was full, and the sponsorship support was immense. The Fundraising/Golf Committee continued to grow the amount of revenue generated, and WEA is grateful for all of its efforts. This year's tournament once again generated about 12% of the organization's operating budget.
WEA welcome new members into the organization in 2021, including:
- Parker, Smith & Feek
- Fehr & Peers
- Banks Community United Methodist Church
- 7x24 Exchange
Outreach & Engagement
Members invested more than 1,500 hours engaged in WEA activities in 2021.
The WEA newsletter resumed its weekly delivery to nearly 1,600 inboxes in June with an open rate averaging 30% in the last quarter of 2021. The newsletter was received every other week prior to this due to the pandemic. It covered a variety of topics, including:
- WEA's events and committees,
- Changing leadership roles,
- COVID forecasts and guidelines,
- Housing activities,
- Economic forecasts,
- Commercial real estate,
- Workforce development,
- Supply chain issues,
- The American Rescue Plan,
- Zoning changes,
- New business expansions,
- Higher ed,
- Urban renewal,
- Water supply,
- Financial assistance,
- Port activity,
- And transit.
- On Twitter, WEA made nearly 68,000 impressions. The top post was about Intel's investment and aerial view of its construction on the Westside.
- It's reach for Facebook was more than 2,400 for the year. In April, WEA had its most viewed post from its #ThankfulThursday campaign for its golf sponsors.
"It's #ThankfulThursday. We want to thank Robinson Construction Co. for its sponsorship of the Westside Golf Scramble, being held at The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club on Thursday, August 26. We appreciate the support and sponsorship of our event's dinner. Last year, thanks to Robinson, we were able to have a socially distanced dinner at our event by hosting KOi Fusion's food truck. The participants & volunteers raved about it."
- LinkedIn posts had more than 5,000 impressions for the year. The most popular post was about the delivery of golf ball for the annual Westside Golf Scramble fundraiser. The golf balls were sponspored by GRI.
The organization's website continues to be an important resource for gaining information on upcoming events, meeting, and news. The website had nearly 30,000 visits and more than 650,000 hits over the course of the year.