‘Economic Roadmap Presentation’ to be held in Banks Thursday, May 31

Banks – The City of Banks will hold a public meeting inside the city council chambers highlighting its “Economic Roadmap Presentation” on Thursday, May 31.

An open house begins at 6:30 p.m. and the presentation of the city council’s findings, which among other ideas places stock in attracting workers from the nearby, so-called Silicon Forest, kicks off at 7 p.m.

Population and plans for growth

The city held a work session on May 8 discussing an April 2018 study that focused on the consistent growth Banks has experienced during the last several years. (Interestingly, the U.S. Census Bureau states in its 2012-2016 American Community Survey — the most recent data available — that Banks’ population was 1,688 compared to 1,777 residents in the Census Bureau’s 2010 profile of general population and housing characteristics.)

The city’s study says Banks had a population of 2,034 last year with close to 630 households dotting the landscape. Within the city’s urban growth boundary, households are projected to grow at a 3.3 percent clip, significantly faster than in the past, between 2018 and 2025 — the study projects 173 new households and a total population of 2,470 by 2025.

Going by a graph featured in the study, the City of Banks has outpaced growth in Washington County as a whole by about 2.5 percent between 2000 and 2010. Another graph shows that by 2027 Washington County will account for 688,938 million residents compared to 2,601 in Banks, and 782,659 in 2037 compared to 2,908 in Banks.

The executive summary from the city’s study states that the “City of Banks is diverse with two distinct populations representing industrial ties to the historic timber industry and the modern ‘Silicon Forest.’” It also hosts many international and local tourists that are interested in visiting the surrounding rural areas, which consist of agricultural wineries and forested trails.

The study finds that Banks is well positioned to foster private investment, especially in the sectors of employment, housing, retail, and tourism. The city also should continue supporting the timber industry ecosystem and welcoming the growth in Hillsboro’s high-tech industry by creating adequate industrial land for small manufacturers “to meet the emerging demand in both industries.”

The city’s role should be to “make sure industrial sites are shovel-ready with the necessary infrastructure and transportation access” and to attract an internet service provider to roll out “enhanced broadband service” to serve home-based businesses, the study says.

Retail and Housing

The economic development roadmap also states that Banks’ housing supply adequately serves, and is planned to serve, residents who work in the high-tech industry, but the city needs to focus attention on smaller, cottage and multi-family units in order to serve employees from the retail and timber industries, as well as retirees looking to relocate into smaller homes that require little maintenance.

Banks is not able to support a new “retail lifestyle center” due to its small retail area and because of market conditions, the city remains underserved by approximately four restaurants. Many restaurants require an initial investment of about $200,000, and because of that restaurateurs prefer the “minimal rents” offered by the landlords of existing buildings, all of which are grouped tightly in one area of town — namely on Main Street with the ideal location being close to the Banks-Vernonia trailhead and Stub Stewart State Park — in order grab the attention, and dollars, of tourists and nearby residents and workers.

A map included in the study shows a part of that area near the trailhead, the old lumber mill, NW Main Street near NW Wilkes Street, the Thriftway Commercial Center and a part of town near Market Street that’s dubbed “Future Plaza.”

The city’s role should be to “make sure Main Street thrives with storefront and restaurant incentive programs” while proactively working building and property owners a distinct restaurant similar to Beaverton’s “foodie corridor.”

Household Averages

Households in Banks average about 3.2 people, a high proportion of which are owner-occupied, single-family homes rather than multi-family units.

Banks households also are “the highest earners across all comparison groups” with a median income close to $90,000 and about 44 percent of all households earning more than $100,000 annually. That may not surprise many people, as Banks approximately 40 percent of all residents less than 25 years old are well educated, having completed a bachelor’s degree or better, which is just below Washington County as a whole (44 percent).

Additionally, the median age of Banks residents is 36 years old — significantly younger than Washington County’s average of 42 years old. The city study also finds a majority of Millennials — those who will be between 30 and 49 years old in 2030 — will just be moving in to starter homes.

Currently, in Banks, the largest population group is those between the ages of 45 and 54. In all of Washington County, 15 percent of residents are between the ages of 25 and 44 and in Portland, 15 percent of the largest population majority is 25-34 years old.

The Banks City Council plans at its next meeting to announce its official goals for fiscal-year 2018-19 and review what achievements and goals were projected and met for 2017-18.

To view the 2018 Banks Economic Roadmap study in its entirety, click here.

Daniel Pearson

Daniel Pearson holds a bachelors in journalism and an MBA in marketing. He’s a10-time, Oregon SPJ award-winning journalist, a two-time winner of an ADDY (advertising) for copywriting, and a one-time award winner for fiction for the NW Coastal Writer’s Series. Email: daniel@bankspost.com Twitter: @rosecitywriting