A Meeting with Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis

By Greg Henderson

On October 22, Mayor Vinis shared thoughts and ideas on the many issues that come with being mayor of Eugene

On January 3, 2019 in her State of the City address, Eugene’s mayor Lucy Vinis listed her “drawdown” list of four major priorities; “Homelessness and Housing, Climate Resiliency, Public Engagement, and Inclusiveness.” Her mind has not changed.

In a forty-five minute meeting on October 22, Mayor Vinis shared thoughts and ideas on the many issues that come with being mayor of Eugene. The analogy of moving needles brought the difficulty of meeting every expectation and priority of the region to something tangible. Economic development issues are a constant conversation in this robust community with knowledge that each spent dollar will be scrutinized with the question, “Why was it spent here and not there?”. Every needle has to move, but none will move as far or as fast as we would like them to.

 In the course of our conversation the mayor mentioned the tremendous involvement of other organizations intent on growing the economy and all the variables associated with the effort. Workforce issues around training and education also depend on cooperation among communities across Lane county (“Eugene’s health depends on the county’s health”). She stated that cities, Chambers of Commerce, educators and businesses must be able to communicate current and future needs. Those discussions about jobs must include awareness of the difference between the “workforce we have and the workforce we need”. Mobility in the workforce according to an article in Forbes “leads to 30% better processes and 23% more productivity – and 100% more satisfied employees.”

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) is led by Val Hoyle, a Springfield resident. According to the BOLI mission statement. “The mission of the Bureau of Labor and Industries is to protect employment rights, advance employment opportunities, and protect access to housing and public accommodations free from discrimination”, fitting in with the Eugene agenda. From the state level, Mayor Vinis believes that if an attitude of “Do it now and do it well” can be achieved many things will work themselves out.

Locally, OregonRAIN, is led by Caroline Cummings with its mantra “RAIN Eugene connects entrepreneurs, mentors and investors together to create a network of talented and dedicated individuals who support the startup community in the Eugene-Springfield area.” The organization is affiliated with Oregon RAIN or Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network.  http://eugenerain.org/

The University of Oregon plays a vital role in many ways in the Eugene metro area. The recognition of the importance of each on the other continues to grow stronger. As the research programs of the university continue to extend countrywide it has become increasingly recognized on a national scale. Oregon State University, the University of Oregon and Oregon Health Sciences University are more often partners in advancing multiple academic endeavors than in the past.

Influence of Eugene on the remainder of Lane county increases the importance of effective communication among all communities in the county. The reach of Lane County from the summit of the Cascades to the Oregon coast makes the effort more dependent on bi-directional communication throughout. Whether the connections impact health care, housing, employment, education, taxes or any of a long list of citizen or community needs there must be a willingness to communicate regularly.

“Moving ahead corridors” in high-speed fiber is only one of several sector strategies that also include workforce, food & beverage, and manufacturing resulting in a “Hub & Spoke” from Eugene to the surrounding region.

“Grow Your Own” has become more necessary as the speed of change evolves with technology. The importance of effective leadership cannot be understated.

Greg Henderson, Founder & Co-PublisherSouthern Oregon Business Journalwww.southernoregonbusiness.com

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