Planning for job growth and environmental protections

Wide angle view of Swan Island with industrial docs and cargo containers and West Hills in background
Intersection of Columbia-Industrial Ezone Project, Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA) and Floodplain Resilience Plan.

The Columbia Corridor and the North Reach of the Willamette River are home to important natural resources, including flood plains, the Columbia Slough and groves of trees. These resources provide critical ecosystem functions for water quality, stormwater runoff, and salmon and wildlife habitat. The corridor is also one of Portland’s major industrial areas, including 66,000 jobs, most of which are middle-wage jobs that do not require a four-year college degree. These types of jobs play an important role in raising the incomes of people of color and closing the racial income disparity gap.

The Columbia Corridor is at the epicenter of three inter-related projects:

  1. The Columbia Corridor-Industrial Lands Ezones Project will correct the location of environmental overlay zones (ezones) in the Columbia Corridor and other industrial areas to better align with rivers, streams, sloughs, wetlands, floodplains, forests and wildlife habitat.
  2. The Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA) will analyze and forecast growth in Portland’s industrial and other business districts, then designate an adequate 20-year supply of developable land for businesses and jobs.
  3. The Floodplain Resilience Plan will update floodplain regulations throughout the city to ensure that new development in the floodplain addresses flood risk from a changing climate, does not jeopardize threatened and endangered species, and complies with new FEMA guidelines that will allow Portlanders to continue to obtain federally backed flood insurance.

The information gathered through these efforts will reveal the benefits and impacts of a range of policy choices to optimize the following three goals: 

  1. natural resource protection; 
  2. hazard mitigation; and 
  3. economic opportunity. 

Ultimately, all of these policy choices will be presented to the Portland City Council, which will decide how to balance the objectives of natural resource protection, economic growth and job creation.