UMATILLA - The City of Umatilla is actively working to recruit new businesses to west Umatilla County.

To help, city officials are working with three other cities to put together a book that will list the area's available properties.

The Umatilla City Council has voted to apply for funding assistance through the Northeast Oregon Alliance, which is funded through lottery money, in order to help them and the cities of Hermiston, Echo and Stanfield prepare a brochure that would showcase available development properties in west Umatilla County.

It will be an advertising tool that could attract businesses, industries and jobs to west Umatilla County.

Umatilla City Administrator Larry Clucas originally thought the spiral-bound book would cost about $30,000 to develop, as special computer programs are needed for each city. However, Echo has opted not to have a computer program, though it still can list properties in the book.

That and other revisions have dropped the cost of book production to $17,500, Clucas said.

The Port of Umatilla also will be asked to pitch in and help with costs, as the port also is involved in the economic development of the area. The port's commissioners will discuss the matter at their Tuesday meeting.

Umatilla Mayor George Hash said he thinks the book is a "good move."

"I'm hoping the four cities will form a partnership and be able to help each other out," Clucas said.

If the cities receive the $15,000 from the state and the Port of Umatilla agrees to pitch in, the four cities each will choose about three or four properties they would like a business or industry to buy and develop.

The book would contain an aerial photo of the property, plus other information such as available utilities, infrastructure, terms and possibly prices.

Umatilla has property in its Urban Growth Area that it would like to see showcased and snatched up by interested buyers, Clucas said.

Ed Brookshier, Hermiston's city manager, said he thinks the book will help not only potential buyers and developers, but some of the smaller cities in identifying possible development sites within their city limits.

"All industrial development begins with the sites," Brookshier said. "Until a community can identify what real inventory they have, whether it is zoned correctly, has reasonable accessibility to utilities and is priced competitively to attract industry from around the country, it is not a site."

Brookshier and assistant city manager Ray Jones worked very hard recently to attract a major business to Hermiston. They came in second to Richland, which could offer the business an 1,800-acre industrial park with all the amenities. The sale price also was much lower than the listed price, Brookshier said.

"That's what we were competing against," he said.

Besides listing property in the yet-to-be-developed west Umatilla County site brochure, Hermiston also is looking to list two or three available sites on their Web site and is actively seeking other ways to attract business.

"I think the brochure is going to be very important to the other communities in west Umatilla County so all of us can work together to show potential businesses that we can be competitive and we really do have available sites," Brookshier said. "It will help all of us coordinate and work together."

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Reporter Carie L. Call can be reached at 1-800-522-0255 (ext. 1-304 after hours) or e-mail: ccall@eastoregonian.com.

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