Monday, April 13, 2009

City of Sisters is "severely distressed"

From the Oregonian:

City leaders are attempting to attract new companies to Sisters. As they've ramped up that effort, city councilors have repeatedly invoked Sisters' status as a "severely distressed community" in their effort to get state help in attracting new companies. But with its high-end resorts and retail shops, that designation was surprising to some.

The severely distressed designation refers to the area inside the city limits. Made by the state, it's an official designation meaning that Sisters falls below certain levels of income and socio-economic data.

City leaders are trying to bring more jobs to town through a series of economic development efforts.

They hope the development efforts will balance the economic differences between parts of the city and the wealthier, outlying areas.

One of the most prominent steps has been the joint application Sisters and Redmond are filing for an enterprise zone, which provides short-term tax breaks when qualifying companies create new jobs.

During the run-up to the application, Sisters leaders often invoked the city's designation as a severely distressed community.

City Manager Eileen Stein said she hadn't expected Sisters ever to be severely distressed, in part because of some of the high-end development around the city.

"Quite frankly, it sort of surprised me that we meet the criteria," Stein said.