The Dalles Enterprise Zone Expanded into Wasco County

The Dalles/Wasco County Enterprise Zone was re-designated as the Wasco County Joint Enterprise Zone on July 1, 2018. Sponsors of this zone include: Cities of The Dalles, Dufur, Maupin, Mosier, and Wasco County, and the Port of The Dalles.

Wasco County Planning staff worked with partners for over six months to identify appropriate places for industrial and commercial development in unincorporated Wasco County, in keeping with existing zoning and land use patterns.

Continue reading “The Dalles Enterprise Zone Expanded into Wasco County”

Locations of Employment

The US Census Bureau has a web based mapping and reporting applications that illustrates where workers are employed and live, as well as additional demographic information, called OnTheMap.

Using the application and data from 2014, we are able to take a look at where people in Wasco County live and work:


This map illustrates that over 5,000 residents in Wasco County also work here, while over 6,000 live in Wasco but work in other counties.  The breakdown below shows the largest percentages of workers in Wasco County work in The Dalles, while the next most popular destinations for work are Hood River and Portland.


Staff also used the map tools to look at in and out flow of workers in Hood River for comparison.  Less Hood River residents travel outside the county for work than in Wasco County, but a higher percentage commute in to Hood River from elsewhere.

Hood River Inflow

As we think about housing, employment development, and transportations for the Comprehensive Plan Update, its useful to keep in mind how our region currently functions for people as residents and workers.

Wasco County Payroll and Employment Growth (2016)

Following up on a previous post about employment in Wasco County, staff wanted to share an overview about job and wage growth.  The State of Oregon Employment Department published a look at employment and payroll growth in Oregon counties from 2015 to 2016 last month.  The available data shows all industries in  Wasco County had a 5.5% increase in employment, with wages increasing 4.1% over 2015.

Wasco County ranks in the “middle of the pack” at 16th for wages, behind Douglas County.  Significant bumps in wage and payroll growth for the natural resources/mining, information and education/health services helped keep Wasco County in a position of growth while wages for manufacturing and retail lagged, or decreased.

During our vision workshops, and in many of the comments we receive, concern for job creation and growth continues to be a priority for our community.  The current Wasco County Comprehensive Plan works to “diversify and improve the economy of Wasco County” by helping to maintain agriculture and forestry lands for production.  It also currently guides the planning program to ensure any commercial or industrial growth in the County (outside incorporated areas) is consistent and compatible with the County’s agriculture and forestry base.

The Planning Department also works to support efforts and contribute to visioning produced by the Mid Columbia Economic Development District; in 2016 and 2017 Planning staff participated in the MCEDD workgroup to develop the 2017-2022 Columbia Gorge Economic Development Strategy.

During the Wasco County 2040 process, we want to hear other possible strategies and goals for helping residents and business achieve prosperity into the future…particularly as they involve land use and development.  You can submit comments here or participate in our visioning survey to share your thoughts.

On October 3rd, Planning Staff will be presenting results from our summer visioning roadshow workshops to the Planning Commission, and making some recommendations for policy focus areas for late fall and winter.  As economic development is already an identified priority by the Department of Land Conservation and Development, staff anticipates it being a topic we bring back to the public for suggestions on how to improve or amend our existing policies.



Wasco County Employment

Using several sources of data, staff have pulled together this handy infographic to share some basic information about jobs in Wasco County.  One of the recurring themes we are hearing in our survey (Take the short survey here and share your thoughts!) and at our workshops is the need for good jobs that support families.  While our regional economic development organization MCEDD does most of the hard work helping businesses in our region, the Planning Department can support those efforts through careful land use planning.

One of the ways we currently do that is by preserving farmland for future cultivation by reducing the ability to divide into small lots and/or develop as residential only use.

For Wasco County 2040, we are interested in hearing your thoughts about job growth, employment, and the types of jobs you would like to see.  One thing we have heard, for instance, is an interest for more opportunities for agro-tourism.  We are currently looking at ways to incorporate those types of uses into our land use plan and would love additional feedback about the most effective way to help support those types of uses.

For ways to share your thoughts go here.

Wasco County Jobs