Two months in, and I’m nearing the halfway point of my 100-day listening tour. Over 60 one-on-one meetings with chamber members, business owners, and government officials have painted a vivid picture of McMinnville’s current economic climate. The word I hear most often? Cautious.

There’s no looming crisis, no immediate fire to put out. However, the lingering effects of inflation, supply chain disruptions, and workforce shortages are causing many to take a measured approach. Growth plans are being carefully calculated, expansions are on hold, and a wait-and-see mentality prevails. For those poised to take the next step, the current environment demands a cautious optimism.

But here’s the thing: optimism is still there. McMinnville’s business community remains resilient. While acknowledging the challenges, the conversations I’ve had reveal a deep well of creativity and determination. Business owners are exploring innovative strategies to navigate the cost of goods. They’re forging new partnerships to address supply chain issues. And they’re actively seeking solutions to attract and retain talent. This proactive approach is exactly what fuels our confidence in McMinnville’s future.

Here’s why I remain optimistic:

  • McMinnville’s spirit of collaboration is unmatched. The willingness of businesses to work together speaks volumes. This collaborative spirit will be key in overcoming shared hurdles.
  • Our community is a magnet for talent. McMinnville’s unique blend of small-town charm and big-city amenities continues to attract skilled individuals and families. Investing in workforce housing will further strengthen this advantage.
  • We’re a place of innovation. McMinnville’s entrepreneurial spirit thrives on challenges. These current hurdles will undoubtedly spark new ideas and solutions, propelling our local economy forward.

The McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes the challenges facing our businesses and is committed to providing the support and resources needed to navigate this cautious economic climate. Here’s how we’ll be working to meet this current economic climate:

  • Unleashing Collaboration: The Chamber will act as convener, fostering connections and creating platforms for businesses to share best practices, support each other’s businesses, and collectively advocate for solutions to our challenges. Imagine a network of businesses working together, not just to survive, but to thrive in this new environment. The Chamber will be the bridge that connects these businesses.
  • Attracting and Retaining Talent: The Chamber will actively champion workforce housing initiatives, working with our government officials to create solutions that attract and retain talent. Imagine a vibrant community where skilled workers can find affordable housing, close to thriving businesses and excellent schools. The Chamber will be a champion for this vision.
  • Fueling Innovation: The Chamber will be a catalyst to help businesses innovate. We will host workshops on creative problem-solving, connect businesses with mentors and industry leaders, and celebrate innovative solutions. Imagine a wave of innovation where businesses develop creative ways to source materials, streamline operations, and attract top talent. The Chamber will be a catalyst for this innovation.

The next few months of my listening tour will be dedicated to further amplifying your voices, your concerns, and your ideas. Together, we will navigate the present and unlock the immense potential that lies ahead for McMinnville. The road may be a bit bumpy right now, but with our collective strength, creativity, and optimism, McMinnville’s future is bright.

Stay tuned for further updates on the listening tour and upcoming initiatives designed to support and empower our thriving business community!

John Olson, President/CEO