“A dream becomes a goal when action is taken toward its achievement.” — Bo Bennett

The dream: Salem as a destination, a magnet of activity, a magnet of people, a magnet of economic prosperity…and we’re getting there, but there’s still work to do.

I’m often asked “what does the Salem Chamber do, anyway?” My answer has refined over time as priorities have become accomplishments, and new areas of opportunity present themselves. If you ask me this question today – my answer is “the Salem Chamber helps Salem happen.” 

With leaders all around our community all vested in the same goal, we are moving toward a living and breathing Salem at an exponential clip. You can feel our city coming to life.

A particular area of excitement came this past week when our Board of Directors put some tangible goals in front of us that really help move Salem forward. These are action steps that may take six months to achieve, others (like the additional bridge over the Willamette) might take years. But our collective eyes are on the same target, and we hope you’ll plant your flag with us.

The following contemporary issues are priorities the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce will have some role in facilitating a solution for. If one or more of these areas is of particular interest to you, please email me – nick@salemchamber.org – and I’ll help you become a part of  Salem’s vibrant future.

  1. Urban Renewal: Tax increment funding is being dedicated for revitalization developments in the following Urban Renewal Areas below. Some of these URA plans are in infancy, some are maturing. All, once enacted, will provide tremendous leverage of public and private funding to create jobs and opportunities.
    1. McGilchrist expansion from 22nd to 25th: Increased manufacturing activity in this area has dictated a need for transportation that allows traffic to move more efficiently through this local economic hot spot.
    2. Portland Road: The North Gateway of Salem is ripe for infrastructure enhancements that will attract private investment. With its close proximity to Interstate 5, this is vital real estate to Salem’s economic advantage.
    3. Downtown Urban Renewal: The Salem Convention Center has become a cornerstone of our downtown’s viability. With the payoff of the loan (in 2017) that enabled the Salem Convention Center’s development, the next significant investments are being discussed now by the Downtown Advisory Board and the Urban Renewal Agency. Look for more information on these potential projects from us in the coming months.
    4. Closing the Fairview Urban Renewal Agency, and creating a State Street Urban Renewal Agency.
    5. West Salem Business District: With transportation enhancements on the horizon, West Salem will become far more suitable for new residential and commercial developments.
  2. Transportation: The most impactful areas of investment for growth and competitive access for customers and to markets.
    1. Salem River Crossing
    2. Commercial air service at Salem Airport
    3. Highway 22 and Cordon Road Interchange (new)
    4. Ride sharing in Salem (Uber/Lyft)
    5. State transportation funding, including Salem-Keizer Transit
  3. Contemporary Business Issues:
    1. Marijuana and its place in our local economy: Measure 91 passed a vote of the people of Oregon in 2014, and a new industry is unfolding. While the Salem Chamber did not take a position on this measure, we will work to ensure municipalities retain leverage to implement policies that reflect local values.
  4. Developments:
    1. Downtown
    2. North Campus of the Oregon State Hospital
    3. Mill Creek Corporate Center
  5. Attracting Companies and Professionals
    1. Becoming a riverfront-centric city and downtown (recreational events, boating, development, trail along Willamette River)
    2. Dark fiber wifi throughout Salem to bolster our technological infrastructure and bandwidth
    3. Various “sizzle and opportunity” projects: marketing Salem the way this video does

The list is robust, as you can see. But we’re ready. This isn’t work that a few people can do – it’s going to take hundreds, perhaps thousands of people to see these priorities through. Our team is growing. Are you in?


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