By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
How can businesses be brought into Keizer?
That was the hot topic during a recent Economic Development and Government Affairs (EDGA) committee meeting held at Keizer Civic Center.
Christine Dieker, executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, suggested putting an economic development tab on both the chamber’s and the city’s website and noted such a feature on the Portland General Electric (PGE) website.
“We need to enhance what we don’t have,” Dieker said. “We should steal the PGE idea for our website. We’re all in the business of economic development. We want to make sure Keizer does have something there or has people there that can answer questions.”
Dieker further suggested having a “contact our team” page on the websites, possibly listing the EDGA chair, herself and Nate Brown – director of Community Development for Keizer – on the page.
Dieker also wants to see a key stakeholder team of perhaps 30 people, with as many members of the team as possible being at events like ribbon cuttings.
Mark Caillier, EDGA chair, passed around samples of what the city of Macedonia, Ohio did on their website as a fact sheet.
“This little community did an incredible job of putting something together that looked really cool on their website,” Caillier said. “They hit their high points in a fact sheet you can just hand to somebody. This is just to get you thinking about what to put on the web page.”
Chris Ray liked another sample Caillier passed around, extolling the virtues of a city for prospective businesses.
“That one is definitely marketing,” Ray said. “That would say come do business in Keizer.”
Dan Clem, director of the chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, wanted to know where the marketing of Keizer is.
“We have to have a regional focus, but we also have to have the local focus,” Clem said. “I haven’t seen it. Who’s marketing Keizer? Who’s marketing whatever we want to market?”
Brown noted the city’s current website is being redesigned and could include a plug-in for economic development information.
A.J. Nash, a commercial broker with Hancock Real Estate, took things back a step for the group.
“I am still questioning what’s our specific goal and purpose?” Nash said. “If we’re taking limited staff time, what is truly our end goal? Is it to create one job? Feeling good about working here? What is our true goal?”
Ray said search engines and website development need to be priorities.
“If I’m considering moving my family to Keizer, maybe if I’m savvy I’m going to the Keizer city or chamber website,” he said. “More likely I’ll look up crime rates and what to do. That’s how the majority of people will do it.”
Nash noted what would be helpful from his perspective.
“It would be great if a hub existed and they could get information at one click about the city and about utilities,” Nash said. “Then I can tell them where to go. Our power is the people. We need to be bringing people forward. Being able to schedule a meeting with a stakeholder, that’s a differentiator.”
Amy Ripp, who will join the Keizer City Council in January, asked about internal outreach.
“What have we done to embrace businesses we currently have?” Ripp asked. “If I’m looking to start a business in Keizer, I’m going to call businesses in Keizer. Is there a program out there to communicate with businesses? They are our referrals and our word of mouth.”
Clem wondered if EDGA members would be willing to do such outreach.
“Are we connected with how to do business in Keizer?” Clem asked. “Then we can engage with the business community to be connected. Maybe we can ask businesses what we can do to help them stay and expand?”
Ray noted the lack of known business space in Keizer.
“I met with a business owner who needs to expand,” Ray said. “He doesn’t know where to do it in Keizer. He’s looking at Salem. He has a very successful Keizer business. When he wants to expand, he’s not seeing anything suitable in Keizer for his business.”
Clem wants to see EDGA move forward on items.
“This should turn into a working group, rather than just a talking group,” he said. “We need to find out how many jobs we can add and how many storefronts we can fill on River Road.”
Clem suggested two or three EDGA members go to local businesses.
“Maybe we do a survey and get the business owner perspective on what’s going on at River Road,” he said.
Brown noted target industries have been developed in Keizer.
“We need to talk to target industries,” he said. “What is it (companies) need to see in order to locate in Keizer? We need to create jobs in target industries and create an environment for companies to come to Keizer.”
Caillier said whatever is done, there has to be a start.
“Sometimes you need to do something to just get started,” he said. “I feel like we need to do something just to get started, even if we find out in six months we should have done something else. We need to do something rather than just talk for two-and-a-half more years.”
Nash suggested assembling a list of six target categories for Keizer.
“We need to target existing and new businesses,” he said. “To target the new, we need to find out what is working for the existing.”