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Port of Longview adds stewardship, education components to strategic plan

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Willow Grove beach

People scattered along the Columbia River at Willow Grove Park on Labor Day, 2020.

The Port of Longview’s master strategic plan will have two new areas of focus in community investment, commissioners decided Wednesday.

In the fourth workshop aimed at updating the strategic business plan, commissions agreed with consultants from KPFF that they should add education, outreach and environmental stewardship to the community investment section of the plan.

The plan already included community economic development and public access and recreational opportunities in it, which previously included an education component.

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By pulling education and the environment out into their own section, commissioners said they hoped for more structure in allocating money to community groups and better awareness of what the port does in the community, especially among young people.

Commissioner Doug Averett said he liked the goal of developing polices and evaluation processes to fund local agencies and public access because “there had not been a framework to decide and having one would be very helpful.”

As part of the renewed focus on education and outreach, the port hopes to raise awareness of its “purpose, activities and benefits to the economy,” according to the draft plan.

Commissioner Jeff Wilson added he would like to use the port’s community partners to reach out, like schools and trade partners.

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Outreach includes having a better marketing strategy, as Commission President Allan Erickson said some people in the community don’t like to see the port spending money on mailers or other promotional material.

The commission decided to look at the effectiveness of its current strategies and make changes based on what they found.

Citizen Diane Dick commented that she wanted education to be targeted at young people.

“It’s really important for the young people in this community to know the types of employment opportunities the port provides, and specifically what are the education and skills and knowledge base required to get those high-paying jobs,” she said.

Port CEO Dan Stahl agreed, saying getting the information out to students could encourage them to focus more on math and other needed subjects if they knew it would help get them a good, local job.

The new environmental section would push the port to focus on stewardship and provide a strategic approach to environmental compliance, according to the draft plan. It would continue work the port already does, step up the environmental awareness program, and foster relationships with environmental partner organizations.

One goal across all areas of the community investment section was to make sure there are sustainable funding strategies for all areas the port covers, like Willow Grove Park and public boat launches, and to expand partnerships with local government and other local agencies.

The next workshop will be April 28 to review parts of the plan focused on internal resources.

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