Is a lack of land causing companies to locate jobs away from Eugene? by Pat Farr

It would seem so.  That is to say, yes it is.

In a briefing on Envision Eugene findings yesterday the Council heard that “We are not in the market to attract companies needing sites larger than 50 acres,” and that the state “is not able to forward industries to Eugene requiring larger sites.”

On November 22 I received a message from City Manager Jon Ruiz on my Council public email:

“Regrettably, I learned today from Rusty that Rexius has secured a location to relocate their business operations.  While still in the general area, it is outside of the Eugene urban growth boundary.  This comes after an extensive effort by Rexius to locate on a large tract of industrial land inside the Eugene UGB.”

This comes at a time when the lack of land available for larger manufacturing/high-paying companies to operate in Eugene is being studied in order to address the issue.

Councilor Zelenka noted during the Wednesday meeting that any recommendation that would add 50-plus acre sites to our inventory of land available for job creation would be “going after the gold ring.”  By this he is suggesting that we might be ignoring local businesses in our efforts to bring in new employers.  He also added that we did not “technically” need to add any large industrial sites based on the “history” of demand.  But clearly the lack of available land has been driving the cited lack of demand.

In fact, as noted in the email, our lack of suitable available land is causing long-time local businesses to relocate outside of Eugene.  By not allowing companies to grow within Eugene’s boundaries (and therefore within its property tax  base) we are significantly impairing their choices of where to build.  Rexius is not the first, and if we are unresponsive will not be the last.

Watch carefully over the next few months as the Council receives the recommendations of how to add land to our industrial base.  How individuals respond to the recommendations will be of note and the words they use will be telling.


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