Everyone is waiting for something to happen in our economy. We are waiting for some sign that everything is okay again and everyone can get back into the pool.
Corporate America is in a holding pattern, unwilling to do what it does best-—invest and innovate—until uncertainty about taxes and regulations are settled. That mindset affects Keizer, too.
We have had some new business construction in Keizer, but not enough to allow the city to grow and increase its tax base. Panera Bread has been added and Outback Steakhouse is being built in Keizer Station. Salem Radiology Consultants is on deck to build a new clinic at Lockhaven Drive and McLeod Lane, but the economic conditions still are not right for that project to get underway. An agreement has been reached between developers and neighbors regarding the mixed used project in Area C at Keizer Station to move ahead, but no tenants have been signed.
Mayor Lore Christopher has been pushing Keizer as an attractive location for the health care industry to build clinics, laboratories and offices. That desire is hampered by the financial issues that Salem Health and Silverton Health are facing—both have announced budget cuts over the past few months.
Keizer can become Marion County’s second medical hub after the area around Salem Hospital. The city offers location and convenience. With a smart expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary Keier will also offer more land. Smart expansion would be a light industrial-office park-medical zoned expansion north of Keizer Station along Interstate 5.
Keizer needs to be ready to address the needs of corporate America once it is ready to expand again. We need to position the city as the preferred location for new development and then recruit the types of businesses that will add quality, non-polluting, green jobs.
When President Obama and Congress finally come to some rational agreement about spending, deficits and debt, we should expect to see the pent-up demand for new business construction take off like a rocket. That’s what businesses are saying, anyway.
What goes on in Washington, D.C. is important to the far-flung communiites like Keizer. We want to add to our tax base, we want to add good jobs for Keizer residents. That’s why everyone has a vested interest in what goes on in the nation’s capital. We all have an interest in Congress and the president hammering out a deal that is good for the nation, and that means good for the public and good for business.
Keizer cannot force businesses to buy land, break ground and build a new structure. What the city and its civic leaders can do is prepare ourselves for when business is at the door ready to call Keizer home.