“The Garden Spot of the Willamette Valley”
“The Garden Spot of the Willamette Valley” a look at McMinnville 90 years ago
While going through some old files in the Chamber office, I found a report from the early 1930’s, containing some interesting statistics and information about McMinnville and Yamhill County.
Here are some highlights of the report:
- Population of McMinnville: 3,859
- Number of dwellings: 1,149
- Families with telephones: 709
- Electrical connections: 1,056 (‘off the grid’ isn’t a new concept)
- Bank deposits: $2,849,310
- Parks: one 22-acre park, a municipal swimming pool and a children’s playground
Local shopping days are Wednesdays and Saturdays, with most sales happening at the first of the month and peak retail season is in the fall, after harvest.
The Chamber had 212 members and met every Monday. Kiwanis had a membership of 35 and met on Wednesdays, and Rotary with a membership of 44 met every Friday. The Legion had 290 members, Odd Fellows 275 and the Elks 1000 members. There were 9 churches of various denominations. Two theatres with a total capacity of 900 and the armory had a capacity of 2,500.
Principle industries: food and kindred products, 20; forest products, 17; paper, printing and related industries, 4; stone, clay and glass, 1; machinery (not transportation), 1.
The Southern Pacific Railway line from Portland to Eugene and three lines of the Oregon Stages, Inc. with a total of 52 stages daily, served the area.
The Wholesale and Retail portion of the report mentioned there were 136 retail stores in McMinnville including:
- Auto and truck dealers: 10
- Independent Cigar Stores: 3
- Department stores: 6
- Gas and filling stations: 23
- General stores: 6
- Meat markets (exclusively): 3
- Millinery: 3
- Restaurants: 7
- Independent shoe stores: 1
Agriculture statistics included wheat yields ranging from 55-72 bushels per acre in 1929. World recognized poultry, cherries, prunes and pears were common crops grown in the area. Potatoes had yields of 150 to 350 bushels per acre. Yamhill County led in the production of the Oregon Walnut, with a market of .22-35 cents per pound. Some of the ten-year-old trees were known to produce over 100 pounds of nuts per season. Filberts (aka Hazelnuts), a larger and sweeter version than those imported from Italy, were in great demand.
The report notes the community has “cheap” electrical power (thank you MWL). Water was supplied from a 112,000,000-gallon reservoir, stating that the water supply “is 100 per cent pure, containing no chemical purifier and noted for its quality”. Natural gas was not available in McMinnville at the time.
McMinnville had 1,166 families and 1,308 passenger automobiles, or roughly more than one car per family.
Land was reasonably priced at $25-50 per acre for hill and foothill land. High grade valley land was $75-150 per acre.
The report ended the with the following words of advise “If you would live where there are no cyclones, tornadoes and blustering winds, where lightning and thunderstorms are unknown; where ocean beaches and forest beauty is a short drive away; where wintery blasts are never felt; where vegetation is green the year around and where living is worth while, then come to the heart of the Willamette valley and to McMinnville.”
The information in this blog post came from a report printed by the Telephone Register Publishing Company, McMinnville (now the News-Register) and researched by Earl Bunting and Associates Marketing Counsellors, from Portland Oregon for the McMinnville Chamber of Commerce, early 1930’s. Information collected, was as printed.
The Chamber Is…
What does a chamber do?
I get asked this a lot. The short answer is, we do a lot of different things and they can be boiled down to three themes:
- The Chamber is a convener of community leaders from all walks of life, businesses and experiences.
- The Chamber is a catalyst for good in our community.
- The Chamber is a champion through advocacy, business promotion and involvement in shaping the future of our community.
As a convener, we gather influential leaders to solve issues within our community. We provide members opportunities to meet, conduct business and support our local economy. We encourage businesses to support each other to develop a strong local economy and we create networks and help build relationships.
As a catalyst we are uniquely positioned to influence change for good in our community. Our programs are geared to grow leaders within our community and develop, encourage and support entrepreneurs.
We champion our community by building bridges between our members, each other and the community. We act as intermediaries between the community, business and government and are part of the ‘inner circle’ of McMinnville. Our community resources knowledge base is expansive-we are the place to get information. The Chamber Board is made up of business professionals representing a wide array of industry and commerce. We advocate for business-friendly legislation at local, county, state and federal levels. We educate and provide awareness of public policy issues impacting business.
The chamber is the largest business association in McMinnville, supporting, promoting and encouraging a strong local economy through a variety of programs, resources and activities.
Keys to a Small Business Owner’s Peace of Mind
If you are a small business owner, you likely know that there are areas of focus that are important to your success. Our local SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) representative Bill Taylor has given us his “Keys to a small business owner’s peace of mind”.
*CASH FLOW – positive cash flow and its importance to your future success. The Cash Flow Statement shows you the movement of money in and out of your business; the inflows and outflows that determine the solvency of your business. A positive cash flow is good, a negative cash flow is, well, not so good.
*ATTRACTING NEW CUSTOMERS – Generating leads to gain new customers is difficult. Where do I advertise? How much time should I spend on social media and which is most effective? Identify your ideal customer/client; know where your ideal customer/client lives; be the answer to your customers pain points; and build partnerships by networking in the community where your customer lives.
*CUSTOMER LOYALTY – In today’s hyper connected world, word spreads fast and far. Online reviews can be good or bad for business. Managing it all while running a business can be tough. How are you developing and managing your customers by developing a consistently positive emotional experience when they purchase from you? THE CUSTOMER IS KING!
*MAKING PAYROLL AND MANAGING EMPLOYEES – Even if you have one employee, being in compliance with state and federal laws is necessary and can be time consuming. There are resources to help with HR issues, compliance and questions you may have. Ask your SCORE mentor, your chamber of commerce or association for help.
*YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE – Your company website: is it doing the job for you? Do you have goals for your site in terms of generating business? How are your social media accounts linked to your website? Online lead generation can help a business.
*NETWORKING – Join the McMinnville Chamber of Commerce, Young Professionals of Yamhill County or other networking organizations to help grow your business through local connections. Take the time and effort to meet and get to know new people at each meeting.
*RESOURCES – Take advantage of:
- McMinnville Chamber of Commerce
- SCORE Volunteers
- SBA (Small Business Association)
- Oregon Secretary of State Website
*KNOW YOUR COMPETITION – Work to stay one step ahead. What are they doing?
*TOUCH BASE with similar businesses in other markets/states. Find out what is working for them. See if there is a business association for your industry and learn what your colleagues are doing.
*HIRE A GOOD ACCOUNTANT/CPA – One you feel comfortable talking to. Get a referral from a friend or business colleague that you trust.
*CONTACT A SCORE MENTOR for FREE business advice. SCORE mentors have seen it all and can be a great resource for you and your business. They are knowledgeable and understand the challenges of being in a small business. You can reach the local SCORE office at (503)370-2896 or (503)857-0292 to make an appointment with an advisor.
BE PROUD OF ALL YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED!!
Continuing to Learn
When I joined my first chamber in 2011, I had, what I thought was, a good understanding of the chamber role in a community. Of course, I’d attended chamber events, connected with many members and thought I knew about the purpose of a chamber of commerce. Becoming the CEO of a chamber of commerce was eye-opening, to say the least.
Fast forward seven years, and I still am learning about a chamber of commerce. There is an old chamber adage: ‘if you’ve seen one chamber, you’ve seen one chamber’. In other words, they are all different. But really, are they?
A Historical Perspective
Chambers of commerce are the business hub of a community. In communities with a thriving chamber of commerce, you will find a thriving community of business. They go hand in hand. The first chamber of commerce was founded in Marseille in 1599, providing merchants, tradesmen, and craftsmen a forum to discuss issues they faced in their community. The Boston Chamber of Commerce organized the Boston Tea Party, launching the Revolutionary War. Chambers of commerce make a difference. They are the strongest and most important assembly of businesses in the world. Being a member of a chamber of commerce lends a business credibility in the marketplace and more importantly, a deeper connection to the community.
The chamber of commerce model has lasted for centuries because of its ability to provide value to members. Chambers do this through a variety of programs and services, providing members with exposure to markets, a voice on legislative issues and a place to gather to solve problems within a community.
Commitment to Community
The McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce’s commitment to our community is no different than it was 100 years ago at its founding. The Chamber will continue to be the premier business association in McMinnville, provide our members with quality promotional opportunities, build strong networks and relationships, and provide education and awareness on public policy issues.
If you’d like to learn more about what the Chamber is doing for you, give us a call at 503-472-6196.
Gioia Goodrum, President/CEO