Business in Corvallis: Opportunities and Obstacles


Corvallis’ Vision 20/20 statement (1997) calls for “a vibrant economy that is anchored by key strategic industries and complemented by a wealth of diverse, environmentally-friendly businesses.” While a key indicator, the city’s unemployment rate, remains among the lowest in Oregon, the employment mix has changed dramatically over the last decade. Manufacturing accounts for less than half the jobs in March 2014 (2,980) that it did in 2002 (6,010), according to the Oregon Employment Department. Moreover, total private sector jobs have slightly declined over that period. Growth in the public sector, principally at Oregon State University, has resulted in about 5 percent more total jobs in 2014 than in 2010.

Although the City of Corvallis has established an Economic Development office, there may be other steps we can take to achieve a nearly 20-year-old economic vision. What are the persistent challenges facing Corvallis in creating a “vibrant economy anchored by key strategic industries”? Is the city business friendly? Through its policies and practices, how can it nurture and retain new businesses and foster the success of those already located here? What are the major challenges and how should we address them?

Tom Nelson
At the June 9 Corvallis City Club meeting, four speakers — Tom Nelson, Skip Run, Jack Wolcott and Kevin Dwyer — will discuss the city’s business climate. Since 2012, Nelson has managed the Corvallis Economic Development office. A graduate of Oregon State, Nelson served seven years with the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department and four years with the City of Sherwood, Oregon, as the economic development manager, before he came to Corvallis.

Skip Rung
Skip Rung is the president and executive director of the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), which grows research volume and commercialization in the broad area of nano- and micro-scale science and engineering. Prior to accepting his current post, Rung was director of research and developed at HP’s Corvallis campus. He has BS and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford.

Jack Wolcott
Jack Wolcott is the owner and founder of Grass Roots Books and Music, which he started in 1971. He is also a co-founder of the Corvallis Independent Business Alliance, which builds support for local businesses. He graduated from Oregon State with a degree in psychology.







Kevin Dwyer
Kevin Dwyer is the Executive Director of the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce. He has spent the past 16-plus years in the Chamber and Economic Development fields. Prior to coming to Corvallis, he ran chambers of commerce in Washington State, including 10 years at the helm of the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce.


The City Club meets in the Les Schwab Gym at the Boys & Girls Club, 1112 NW Circle. The meeting will begin at 12 noon, and doors will open at 11:30. As always, attendance is free. Lunch is $10 for members, $12 for non-members. To register, send e-mail to nickhoutman8@aol.com with "City Club June 9" in the subject line by June 6. Please indicate if you are having lunch.

Drought on the Horizon: Where will you get your water?


When: Monday, May 12, 12 noon
Where: Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis

"Summer time, and the living is easy." Or so the song goes. Changing water availability is already making things less easy for our neighbors in southern Oregon and California. Willamette Valley residents could be in for similar experiences. Storing more of what falls or what we now send down our drains might help alleviate future shortages. Rainwater storage systems are already becoming a sight in Corvallis gardens. Gray-water systems are less common.

Two speakers — Dave Eckert and Lisa Franklin — will address the practical and regulatory aspects of rain and gray-water storage and use for businesses and homeowners. You may be surprised at what's possible, what's legal and what some of our neighbors are doing.

For more than 20 years, Dave Eckert has been helping people install these systems. He has made films about rainwater collection and initiated local projects that led to the first Corvallis permits for such systems in 2008 and graywater in 2012. He currently teaches free public workshops on rainwater collection and raingarden systems. He is also the Water Action Team Leader of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, which installed the Three Waters Project at the South Co-op to prove that businesses can reduce their water consumption and stormwater runoff. The Team is currently working with engineering students at OSU on OSU stormwater controls.”

Lisa Franklin is an engineer for the city of Corvallis and oversees the city's rainwater collection permitting process. She reviews site engineering and right-of-way matters associated with development. She is the primary contact for floodplain and private drainage questions and has been on the Development Services team since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Oregon State University. During college, she worked for the Industrial Assessment Center assisting industries in processes to reduce energy usage, increase productivity, recycle bi-products and reduce waste. She spent seven years in private practice as a civil engineer.

The City Club meets in the Les Schwab Gym at the Boys & Girls Club, 1112 NW Circle. The meeting will begin at 12 noon, and doors will open at 11:30. As always, attendance is free. A buffet lunch will be catered by Nearly Normal's. The cost is $10 for members, $12 for non-members. To register, send e-mail to nickhoutman8@aol.com with "City Club May 12" in the subject line by May 9.

Neighborhood Activism and the Planning Commission


This artist's rendering shows the proposed Campus Crest student housing development in the Witham Oaks area of Corvallis, as designed in 2013. (Provided by Campus Crest Development LLC)

Development may change the look and feel of our neighborhoods, but proposals must first pass muster with the City of Corvallis, specifically the Corvallis Planning Commission. What exactly is this commission and what does it do? How can you work with it to achieve better outcomes in your neighborhood?

To explore these questions and get guidance in working with the commission, plan to attend the Corvallis City Club on April 14th at Boys & Girls Club. Effective participation in the planning commission process requires an understanding of the commission, its composition, operating requirements and what it can and can’t do. Speakers Julie Hansen and Jennifer Gervais will address the ongoing needs of neighborhoods and how to “navigate the system” in the best way possible to meet those needs. Hansen is a member of the Cougar Hill Neighborhood Organization in northwest Corvallis, and Gervais is the chair of the Corvallis Planning Commission. 

Hansen has worked with the commission on two recent issues. She will describe the methods used by her group to insure the most positive outcomes possible in the process of working with local government. 

Gervais will address Oregon's land use planning process, what issues come to the commission and why, and the process for citizen participation.

The City Club meets in the Les Schwab Gym at the Boys & Girls Club, 1112 NW Circle. The meeting will begin at 12 noon, and doors will open at 11:30. As always, attendance is free. A buffet lunch will be catered by Kimhoa's Kitchen. The cost is $10 for members, $12 for non-members. To register, send e-mail to nickhoutman8@aol.com with "City Club April 14" in the subject line by April 11.

Living with Wildlife


As human population grows, people and wildlife often find themselves living in close proximity. When wildlife habitat and food and water resources disappear, animal look for food and nest sites in homes and garages. While it is a joy to watch these animals up close, they can wreak havoc on gardens, houses, and often put themselves in harm’s way.  Join the Corvallis City Club at their March 10 meeting to learn more about living with and enjoying the wildlife we have in our own backyards and neighborhoods.

Nancy Taylor, an Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife biologist, will provide information about how to co-exist with wildlife, from cougars to turkeys and rabbits to rats. Ms. Taylor has 25 years of experience in the field and is currently based in Adair. Jeff Picton, Executive Director of Chintimini Wildlife Center, will share tips and advice for dealing with orphaned and injured wildlife, a timely topic as spring approaches. Mr. Picton also has 25 years of experience serving his wildlife patients since he began Chintimini Wildlife Center in 1989.  

The City Club meets in the Les Schwab Gym at the Boys & Girls Club, 1112 NW Circle. The meeting will begin at 12 noon, and doors will open at 11:30.  As always, attendance is free. A buffet lunch will be catered by Qdoba with vegetarian and gluten-free options. The cost is $10 for members, $12 for non-members. To register, send e-mail to nickhoutman8@aol.com with "City Club March 10" in the subject line by March 7.

Pay to Park

FEB. 10 UPDATE: As roads are beginning to clear from last week's snow storm, the City Club will meet At the Boys & Girls Club today.

In a bid to ease parking congestion on residential streets near Oregon State University, the City of Corvallis is weighing a proposal to expand the number of parking districts around the campus. The City's Urban Services Committee is evaluating the idea, which stems from recommendations by the Collaboration Corvallis Parking and Traffic Work Group, a city-university initiative. While implementation is planned for September 2014, the proposal must receive city council approval before it can go into effect.


At the February 10 Corvallis City Club meeting, three speakers will address the residential parking proposal: Dan Brown, Courtney Cloyd and Steve Clark. Cloyd and Clark are members of the Collaboration Corvallis Parking and Traffic Work Group.


  • Dan Brown serves on the City Council from Ward 4. The retired Oregon State University professor of business is also a member of the City's Urban Services Committee. 
  • Courtney Cloyd is president of the Central Park Neighborhood Association and has been a resident of Corvallis since 1987.
  • Steve Clark is vice president of OSU’s University Relations and Marketing division. He has more than 25 years of civic engagement in statewide and Portland metro issues.  


City Club meets in the Les Schwab Gym at the Boys & Girls Club, 1112 NW Circle. The meeting will begin at 12 noon, and doors will open at 11:30.  As always, attendance is free. A buffet lunch will be catered by Laughing Planet. The cost is $10 for members, $12 for non-members.  To register, send e-mail to nickhoutman8@aol.com with "City Club February 10" in the subject line by February 7.

IF YOU ARE HAVING LUNCH, please indicate a choice of: 1) Zappatista Salad; 2) Bollywood Bowl; or 3) Spinach and Bean Burrito.

The Future of High-Speed Rail in the Willamette Valley


Amtrak operates the Acela, a high-speed train between Boston and New York.
Faster passenger trains could make travel by rail on the West Coast more attractive for commuters. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is now planning for a new 125-mile segment in the Willamette Valley from Eugene to Portland. While neither of the two proposed routes goes through Benton County, high-speed rail with a stop in Albany could offer new options for mid-valley communities.

On January 13, two speakers — Jim Cox of ODOT and Linda Modrell of the Benton County Commission — will speak about the project, the environmental impact of developing a new rail line and possible options for Benton County.

Amtrak's Cascades now operates between Eugene and Seattle.
Jim Cox began working for ODOT in 1998 after seven years with the engineering consulting firm CH2M HILL and 10 years with the U.S. Forest Service. He managed major environmental projects for ODOT before joining the Major Projects Branch (MPB) in 2004 as assistant branch manager. Cox has held several roles at MPB, including managing the Design-Build Unit. He currently serves as the Bridge Delivery Unit manager, overseeing delivery of the OTIA III State Bridge Delivery Program, which includes the CM/GC-delivered Interstate 5 Willamette River Bridge project in Eugene-Springfield. He also manages several passenger rail projects for the ODOT Rail Division. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in anthropology from the University of Oregon.

Linda Modrell was first elected to serve as Benton County Commissioner in 1999 and was re-elected in 2002, 2006 and 2010. Before running for elective office, she worked several years in the health-policy field, including on the team that developed Oregon's Health Plan. Prior to her work in health care, Modrell was a long-term employee of Oregon State University, working her way from secretary to become Extension's business services manager and then the College of Agricultural Science's director of administrative computing system. At OSU, Modrell earned a Master of Business Administration (minor in community health and gerontology) and a Bachelor of Science in accounting (minor in behavioral science). At Benton County, Modrell's areas of major interests include transportation, health, governance and water issues.

City Club meets in the Les Schwab Gym at the Boys & Girls Club, 1112 NW Circle. The meeting will begin at 12 noon, and doors will open at 11:30.  As always, attendance is free. A buffet lunch will be catered by Kye Brown, chef and owner of Kyes Cuisines (kyescuisines.com).  The cost is $10 for members, $12 for non-members.  To register, send e-mail to nickhoutman8@aol.com with "City Club January 13" in the subject line by January 10.