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#5 Local Government Partnerships with Shannon Buckmaster
Episode 512th October 2020 • Terminal Value • Doug Utberg
00:00:00 00:36:06

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Doug and Shannon Buckmaster talk about public-private partnerships and the importance of community.

Shannon is the Economic Development Manager in the town of Newberg where Doug currently lives.

Doug's business specializes in partnering with companies and non-profits to create value and capture cost savings without layoffs to fund growth and strengthen financial results. 

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Welcome to the terminal value Podcast where each episode provides in depth insight about the long term value of companies and ideas in our current world. Your host for this podcast is Doug Utberg, the founder and principal consultant for Business of Life, LLC.

Doug: Welcome to the total value podcast. I'm Doug Utberg and I have Shannon Buckmaster with me from the city of Newberg. And now for those of you who know me, Newberg is where I live. For those of you who don't know me, Newberg is where I live and it's a smaller town. It's not a tiny town, but it's live, it's South of Portland. And most people who don't live in the area don't know about it. But I happen to think that it is the best town on the face of the planet. I'm certain Shannon would agree. And one of the things that I wanted to do was to talk with everybody just about, you know, about what the local experience is like, because in the corporate media, everybody hears about everybody hears about the big cities that people have been hearing about Portland because of fires and protests and things like that. but real life happens locally. And so that's one of the reasons why I really like to bring a local flavor. So Shan please introduce yourself a little bit, help everybody, help everybody to understand why we all love Newberg so much.

Shannon: Well, thank you for inviting me Doug. I'm pleased to join you this afternoon and highlight our lovely little community, which is a growing community, right? We're located in Yamhill County. 

Doug: Yeah.

Shannon: We're bordered by three, officially two Metro counties, Marion County and Washington County, but we're also very close to Multnomah Clackamas County. 

Doug: Yap.

Shannon: So we're really kind of the first rural experience when you're coming out of the Portland area. When you come down Rex Hill and you see all the, all the vineyards and the hospital and our cute little downtown area coming up, like that's really your gateway into the rural wine country experience and it's on your way to the coast. So I'm sure you all have been through Newberg. You may not have really thought about it on your, on your way through. 

Doug: Yeah.

Shannon: We are down with about 24,000 people here so far, we're growing so rapidly. Actually. I just heard an estimate that we're expected to maybe have around 50,000 people in our town by 2070.

Doug: Yes. Yap. That's quite a year.

Shannon: Seems like it's forever away, but the older I get the faster time goes, so basically tomorrow, we have some.

Doug: Yeah exactly.

Shannon:  I'm sorry, I'm talking over the top of you. Okay. I'm so excited to share your age.

Doug: No problem. It's okay. Don't, don't, don't contain your excitement. but it's, it's, it's interesting just to see that level of population growth because, you know, 1% is considered good population growth, you know, 2% for like a County is high in 3% insane. You know, and you know, whereas, you know, we're looking at that population doubling over what, well, it's, it's basically doubling in 50 years. I mean, that's not insane, but that's still, you know, that's like about a one and a half percent growth rate. That's, that's not insignificant in terms of population. That's a lot of growth.

Shannon: It's a big deal. And, you know, one of the things that I'm really proud of about our city, and I can say this with a full disclaimer, this is officially my fifth week on the job. So I'm saying this with the perspective that I'm a fan of what the city has been doing for years I ever dropped on their doorstep. But the process about the infrastructure development and how, how we protect the culture of our community, even while we sustain this level of growth, it's a conversation our civic leaders have been having for several years now. So we're mindfully preparing for the growth instead of putting ourselves at risk for reacting and possibly losing what makes us so special?

Doug: Well, I actually say, I think you should do it the opposite way. Just needed to put up huge developments everywhere with no rhyme or reason and just figure, just assume we'll figure it all out when it happens.

Shannon: I mean, I'm sure other cities have done that.

Doug: No other cities have moved away from that.

Shannon: And that's not our approach. So I was going to highlight, we have a couple of big things that people maybe might associate with Newberg, but certainly we had George Fox University here. One of the most highly respected private universities on the West coast. If not the nation, we have a large medical center that continues to grow with Providence brick medical center here in town. We have an expansive, very well-developed parks and rec department should Highland park and recreation department, uh, actually following a model that other communities look up to and how they manage their assets and land land use. Of course, you know, we have the fun things. Well, we have the golf course through CP repeat, but we also have wine country. We have great Agra agricultural developments. We have hazelnuts filberts if you're from the area, I know I'm leaving out my favorite child. Somebody's going to hear this podcast and go, you forgot actually, one thing I did forget. The Shah Alam cultural center, which is one of the most outstanding art centers in the state as well. So we've got a lot of reasons to come to Newberg.

Doug: Yeah. And so also for the for all the podcast listeners before working for the city of Newberg. Shannon was the head for the chamber of commerce. So she is intimately familiar with all of the community dynamics, but, you know, which is what makes this such an interesting conversation.

Shannon: I was not born and raised here. I am a Pacific Northwest native, but I'm a Newberg transplant. So I guess we can check the box of the official, get to know Shannon Buckmaster. I was just hired as the city's first economic health manager on August 21st. And I've heard that it's actually the second position created full-time in response to the pandemic in the nation.

Doug: Wow.

Shannon: I heard that the first was in Colorado. So we're trendsetters. Some of the questions we'll talk about economic development, what we're doing with the badges, we're calling 2020. This is one of those creative approaches where the city decided to allocate resources, all sorts of time, talent, and finances behind a permanent solution or a long-term solution to some of, some of the challenges that we face. So just started on the job, but I'm not a newbie, so to speak. So

Doug:  Excellent. That is actually an amazing, transition, because one of the things that I wanted to talk about is how smaller towns like Newberg are addressing COVID because of course you have, you know, you have all these, you know, you have the stay at home orders, wherever we're at in the Portland Beaverton school districts, you have mandatory closures. From what I understand, Newberg has been in Llano County have been really working to try to keep kids in class, which I think is very, very helpful because, you know, kids aren't meant to stare at screens all day. Uh, but anyway, I'm taking your thunder, you know, tell me about what Newberg is doing to, to make the experience wonderful for our residents.

Shannon: So Newberg has been really available and actually one of the benefits of being part of a small community, I'm going to steal one of your questions in advance.

Doug: Okay.

Shannon: One of the benefits of being part of a small community is that,  it often, yes, we might have fewer resources, but we have more flexibility. We can very quickly adapt. Even our city council, the, of a seven member city council, including our mayor, and they've been very responsive. And I also find too that we've had an easier time as a community, aligning our priorities with what we hear. The other priorities are at the regional level and the state level too. So we have a crystal clear focus on what needs to be done. Things like workforce development, critical financial support, housing, stability childcare. And we know all of that rolls into a quality life that touches every part of the community, including our school district. So I'm gonna unpack, so honestly it's a cool opportunity because not again, I knew what was going to be part of my job. And a lot of it is carrying over from the work that I did at the chamber of commerce that was maybe doing about 80% economic development work through the chamber. Now I'm doing a hundred percent economic development work. So taking the things that I loved and were serving our region and then building it out. And there were a couple of other components to my professional background that are, that the city is now able to use on a little different scale. Okay. So another great benefit to a small city, we have really strong volunteerism. 

Doug: Yeah. 

Shannon: This is kind of how that plays out. 

Doug: Well, I'm going to take you on a little bit of a segue here. Uh, so, you know, at the time of recording, we are not far away from when we had just massive wildfires all throughout Oregon and California and Washington, some parts of the West coast still have fires going, but there was actually a pretty significant fire just over the Hill in th in what's called the bald peak Shah Alam area which is

Shannon: 6 Miles away from downtown Newberg.

Doug: Correct. Yeah. It's six miles away from downtown it's, you know, fortunately it was on the other side of a hill and the wind was blowing it away from town, but there was amazing volunteerism in people, you know, not only can people evacuate themselves back to way their families, but also things like evacuating, their pets people don't think about, Oh, okay, Hey. So if we have to go back to, if we have a level three evacuation order and we have to, you know, get everybody out of the house, if you have, what, if you have livestock? You know, there were a lot of the, a lot of local shelters who were taking in dogs, cats, chickens, you know, these are, these are important things. And it's things that are things that are really easy to overlook when you see a news story that goes out to, you know, 50 million people,

Shannon: Right. So our community did have an incredible response that we have, and you can really say that both the fires and coronavirus impacting our economy. So we have already started to designate funds that were available funds, you know, small grants. We had the support local challenge, which was really a partnership where our local residents were encouraged to spend money and then submit their receipts to the city. And they got a rebate against their water utility bill.

Doug: Yes.

Shannon: $25 was a $15 credit. And you could submit, you could actually earn up to a $75 credit per month, both in April. So that's that flexibility. That's the, we can do this, we can pivot. Now we can find a new solution to a creative, a creative challenge. You see, we saw that same response with a fire and actually it was just, it was incredible. I live in Newberg. 

Doug: Yeah. 

Shannon: Full disclosure, again, that, that local personality that I've implanted myself. I've been in Newberg continuously since 2005.

Doug: Okay.

Shannon: When I moved back after grad school. So my undergraduate degree is at George Fox university came to Newberg for the first same name. And then my graduate degree was at Yale where I worked in community-building and communication. And then I came back and actually taught at George Fox for six years before moving into business.

Doug: Excellent.

Shannon: So the connections, the tie to community, you have a lot of our local leaders who actually live and work and play in the Valley. Yes, we do get out of the Valley. We're cultured, but we're invested in the place we live. And so even as we were starting to hear the fires before we even had the Shah Alam mountain fire, we were hearing of our neighbors in Marion County. And there was an immediate response from commissioner Pope in Marion County to commissioner Kula in Yamhill County, reaching out to the community. So we were actually receiving evacuees from Marion County before we were evacuating the ball peak area and the partners who came together. One of the first partners that I'm aware of was actually Newberg school district. They opened up the high school gymnasium for evacuees. They partnered with a local numbered restaurant, Radica wood Ruddock woods started preparing meals. They outgrew their kitchen with a demand, both for first responders and people coming to our community who needed help. So then the school district opened up Edwards elementary. And then I believe the high school, it was either the high school or maybe a rush. They opened a full-scale kitchen so that the chef staff at Radek would cook, cook food and respond to those, to the fires. And then we had volunteers delivering and packaging and getting the food already to go Northwest Christian Church. Also Newberg set up evacuation sites. I heard that, I believe two, maybe three days ago. Now time flies. We have no concept of anymore. We finally had our last evacuees leave, Newberg Christian Church or Northwest Christian Church name last year.

Doug: Yeah. 

Shannon: I'm still adjusting.

Doug: Yeah. I, I know, I know where it is. That's when my wife and I walk our dog. That's our standard route is, you know, we normally go, you know, kind of, out by the Alison that's a, that's a resort for everybody who lives in Newberg. Everybody knows the Alison, but if you're from out of town. The Alison is an extremely beautiful resort, which is over in the Newberg area just a little ways on the north side of town. And then when you.

Shannon: And then we officially be a five-star resort. Now, possibly the only one in the state of Oregon, it's gorgeous. The sponsor visits are incredible, but

Doug: That is in our standard dog walking route.

Shannon: Excellent. So they stepped up to respond. We had, we just had a great internal communication channel. And  yesterday morning, our department heads at the city of Newberg, we received a briefing from about in Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, our contracted emergency services provider. They were able to share that we actually had no residential losses. We lost a few barns and a few outbuildings. And we had no loss of life, no significant injury or, or damage either to residents or to the fire crews that were out fighting the fire. So we were really fortunate. The cool thing about that again, is that yes, we take care of the people in Newberg and Yamhill County and the surrounding area, but then we reached out to our regional neighbor as well. And I know we're still coordinating with Yamhill County to continue to address, you know, property damage reparation, but what are we doing to help people who are not so fortunate as our residents worth, you know, people from the Santiam pass area from Gates lions, how do we support that? So even then there's conversation about setting up contractors, concrete supply, raw material services. How are we supporting that process to rebuild for our neighbor or going inside? That's crazy, right? We're a small town, and yet we're part of a significant pool of resources. It's really about who you know, it's, it's that relational connection that we bring to business.

Doug: And, yeah speaking for myself, I have to say that, what you're talking about is far more interesting than sitting on your couch and watching CNN or Fox news for nine and a half hours a day.  You know, not that I know anybody who does that, Oh, I'm sorry. Or posting angry rants on Facebook for 10 and a half hours a day. I know a lot of people who do that and I'm, and I'm trying my darndest to not be one of them, which is why we're having this conversation today.

Shannon: It's nice to get an infusion of positivity, right. Especially since the pandemic started and, you know, if I can speak candidly from my position, whether or not it was at the chamber, or currently now it's a co-worker actually Lacie to graph who is our communications specialist at the city. We were, we were talking about this experience that we're essentially paid to doom scroll when you're on the cutting edge of relief or economic recovery or fire response or whatever that leadership responsibility is to the community. It's your job to digest the massive amounts of negative and find a way to not only package it for communication in a way that's accessible and useful for the, for the community that you're serving. In my case, that's very clearly the business community,  but also condensing or digesting that information so that we're able to create long-term solutions, not being that reactive cycle. It actually takes a lot of mental fortitude to spend so much time in that space. And so I applaud actually true confession. I did not watch the presidential debate. 

Doug: What?

Shannon:  for my mental health.

Doug: What?

Shannon: I read several different perspectives, curated summaries the day after, because as a leader, when you're working with this level, it's, it's actually my professional and ethical responsibilities to the community that I'm serving to keep my head positive, my space forward moving so that you get my best so that we have something hopeful to pursue, right? So that when I get up, I'm not thinking about whatever insults or yelling or barbs were tossed around on any particular news channel that I'm not staying stuck in mortality rates or epidemiology reports or economic analyses that I get up. And I think,