Private and public investment will bring opportunity to our regionNo doubt about it, the Pacific Northwest economy is in tough shape. Oregon's is especially troubled.
Within that context of grief, Astoria and the Columbia-Pacific region is fortunate to be gaining positive momentum. A fair amount of that drive comes from the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. Considerable private, public and philanthropic investment is flowing into Astoria to prepare for the large number of visitors who will come over the next three years. A similar dynamic is occurring in Pacific County, and if Congress funds the expansion of Fort Clatsop into an interpretive center at McGowan, the public investment on that side of the river will be considerable.
There are four Astoria hotels coming. The Elliott Hotel, a magnificent restoration, has received its first guests. The Historic Landmarks Commission has approved the design of a Holiday Inn Express that will reside under the Astoria Bridge.
Some of the best news is that the Astoria waterfront is robust. Seafood processors have invested millions in new facilities to handle sardines that are being landed here in abundance. Elsewhere on the riverfront, the summer berthing of a decommissioned aircraft carrier, the USS Midway, will draw thousands of visitors. We would not ordinarily think of a grocery store as a waterfront developer, but the new Safeway on Lief Erickson Drive is an especially positive prospect. Safeway has responded to its historical and maritime setting with an attractive store exterior.
The good fortune of an ocean current and a national celebration have something to do with these developments. The city of Astoria and the Port of Astoria have also made themselves ready for investment by being smart planners. The port's new business is good news for the entire county.
In a similar vein, we are fortunate that the apparel retailer Ross will shortly be filling a large vacant space in the Youngs Bay Plaza. In addition to filling a retail niche, Ross will employ some 40 people.
A local economy does not affect regional or national trends. Even a state's resurgence does not affect global patterns. But these local investments provide opportunity in the short term and they will be especially significant in the long term. We have a lot to appreciate.