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"Let's Build Newberg" - A Workforce Housing Solutions Summit

Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” Nowhere was this more evident than at the recent “Let’s Build Newberg” event.

On April 5th, the MMHF, The Strategic Economic Development Corporation (SEDCOR) and the Newberg Workforce Housing Consortium (NWHC) hosted an all-day workshop for 45 attendees at a community space owned by Consortium member, Friendsview. The goal of the session was to find solutions for our housing underproduction crisis, which is currently preventing people, places, and economies from reaching their full potential. “Friendsview was happy to host this event. Newberg is a great place to live and work, and having enough housing for those who call Newberg home will make it even better,” shared Todd Engle, Executive Director of the Friendsview Retirement Community. Participants included representatives from Newberg and points beyond the Willamette Valley, developers and contractors, economic development professionals, employers, and housing innovators of all kinds. The diversity of the attendees contributed to engaged and robust dialogue, and the formation of three working groups to continue their good work. “I overheard folks in breakout groups approach a topic from different viewpoints and end the conversation agreeing to meet to further vet out one of their ideas. For me, that was the real success of the event – breaking down silos amongst collaborators and identifying future change makers,” said Abisha Stone, Economic Development Manager at SEDCOR.

The event was made possible by the leadership of SEDCOR and the NWHC. These partners and the MMHF recently released a Request for Proposal (RFP) (proposals are due April 21, 2023) to develop housing solutions in Newberg, with the financial support of up to $3million from the State of Oregon. Two key takeaways from the day included: 1) There are significant housing innovations within Yamhill County in products, design, financing, and policy that can ease our housing crunch, and 2) There is far reaching community engagement and interest in collaboration and partnership to “get things done”.

As the day concluded, all agreed that we are at an early stage on this journey. Three key priorities were identified to carry the focus of this work forward including:

  1. Engage Newberg’s neighboring cities to come together to advocate for state policy change to encourage, speed, and lower the cost to develop workforce housing.

  2. Develop financing tools to support workforce housing creation.

  3. Develop funding mechanisms to support workforce housing innovation companies, their product development, and research and development.

If you would like to participate in one of these working groups on product innovation, labor, financing, or policy and regulations, please contact us!

We are inspired by the energy and enthusiasm that was evident in the planning and preparation for this event. SEDCOR’s leadership united us all in mission, Friendsview graciously brought us together in the perfect venue, The Newberg School District kept our bodies fueled with a delicious lunch, and our tremendous facilitators kept us on task. Jordan Beanblossom, Corporate Communications Manager at A-dec, a Consortium member, summed up the day perfectly, saying, "The Let’s Build Newberg event highlighted the importance of open mindset and collaboration in tackling the critical issue of housing affordability in our community. I’m grateful that so many from both the public and private sectors joined us; it makes me hopeful for our future.”

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