Economic Development and Housing

Mid Columbia Economic Development District, in conjunction with a Columbia Gorge Economic Development steering committee, conducted seven regional outreach sessions in 2016 to develop a comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) for counties in the Columbia Gorge region.  This includes Wasco County.

The CEDS includes some basic demographic data as well as economic data that provides context for many of the strategies that resulted from the planning process.  The priority goals that were identified were:

  • Housing
  • Financial capital and entrepreneurial environment
  • Workforce
  • Infrastructure
  • Regulatory Environment

Several challenges and opportunities identified under these goals have implications for land use planning.

Staff has prepared a white paper about housing and economic development in Wasco County to provide an in depth look on an area that relates to two land use planning goals (Goal 9 and Goal 10) we will be looking at during the Wasco County 2040 process.

Economic Development Policies

As part of our 2018 Spring Roadshow, we will be talking to communities about possible economic policies and implementation strategies to include in Wasco County 2040.  Some suggestions we received during the visioning work sessions were:

  • Job creation through flexible and/or innovative land use planning
  • Encourage technology networks (broadband, etc)
  • Support home occupations by making rules more transparent/easier to be permitted
  • Provisions to support value added agriculture

Our current policies in the Comprehensive Plan include:

  • Maintain agriculture and forestry as economic base
  • Commercial and industrial development, compatible with ag and forestry, will be encouraged
  • Support expansion and increased productivity of existing industries/companies
  • Support Mid Columbia Economic Development District (MCEDD) and their economic development plans/strategies
  • Encourage and support tourism

The Citizen Advisory Group and staff are interested to hear how (and if) you would like to update the current policies and strategies to help Wasco County, over the next 20 years, leverage land use planning to encourage economic vitality.  We invite you to attend one of our work sessions in May or June, or take our survey.  You can also submit a comment at any time through the website.

You can read more about Wasco County, including data about employment and farm subsidies by checking out some of our other posts:

Agri-tourism and Wasco County 2040

During the 2017 Wasco County 2040 Visioning roadshow and public outreach, Planning staff and the Citizen Advisory Group asked community members, property owners, and stakeholders for input on amending land use planning regulations to allow for more opportunities for agri-tourism events and activities.

In 2011, Senate Bill 960 allowed counties to adopt new provision, in whole or in part (or not at all) to allow for additional types of activities and events, in conjunction with farm use.  These were categorized as “agri-tourism” uses and designed to be related to and in support of agriculture.

These uses would be added to Wasco County’s Exclusive Farm Use Zones (A-1 (160) and A-1 (40) regulations in the Land Use and Development Ordinance.  They are exclusive to state law, and therefore the National Scenic Area would not be eligible for these additional uses.

Staff has prepared the following white paper to help inform the public on the key issues related to agri-tourism and land use planning: Agritourism whitepaper WC 2040