Few would argue that years of focused effort to turn Astoria into a tourist destination have been quite successful. The port's efforts to encourage cruise ships will bring 24 ships to the city in 2017 with those thousands of passengers enjoying the town and the surrounding area. Magazine features telling the world that Astoria is one of the "coolest" small towns in America attracts people to check it out. The thousands of devoted Goonies fans who make the pilgrimage here annually to celebrate their favorite cult film and "truffle-shuffle" their way around town, all contribute to the local tourist trade and a very important boost to the local economy.
The question is: Where do we go from here?
The Astoria City Council would like to find out, and the city Community Development Department has been charged with exploring the possibilities for economic development beyond tourism. The city received a technical assistance grant from the state of Oregon to produce a five-year economic development strategy to keep Astoria moving forward. The plan is called "Advance Astoria"
Community outreach is a vital in creating that strategy. With that in mind, the city is sponsoring a community forum and open house for citizens to review draft concepts and offer input on the strategy components.
The event is set for Thursday evening, January 19th with an open house at the Loft at the Red Building located at 20 Basin Street. Members of a citizen's committee, appointed by Mayor Arline LaMear to help guide the project and provide advice on technical and policy questions, will be at the event along with city staff, elected officials, and a representative of the Seattle consulting firm Community Attributes Inc. which has been working on the strategy building blocks.
The event begins with an Open House from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM which will be followed by a panel discussion featuring successful local and regional business people who will talk about their experiences and challenges.