Public Affairs

Strengthening Tigard’s Industrial Core

unnamed.png

Overview

The City of Tigard identified its Hunziker Industrial Core as a unique and exciting opportunity to redevelop 138 acres of industrial land in an urban setting to help foster economic growth and provide long-term, high-skill, high-wage job opportunities for the region. CFM worked with Tigard, local stakeholders and the Oregon congressional delegation to secure millions of dollars in grant funding to help execute Tigard’s vision.

Challenge

While the benefits of the project are clear and compelling, necessary infrastructure improvements were cost-prohibitive for Tigard. The total cost of public infrastructure (roads, water, waste water and storm water) necessary to support private development in the Hunziker Industrial Core was estimated at more than $8 million. Even after CFM’s state lobby team secured $1.5 million in funding from the State of Oregon, there was a large funding gap to fill to bring this project to fruition.

Approach

With extensive knowledge of federal funding streams, CFM identified the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Public Works grant program as the best fit for the City to pursue. CFM organized project tours and meetings with EDA officials in Oregon and Washington, DC to discuss how well the project aligns with EDA’s funding priorities and worked with City staff to draft and edit grant applications for EDA’s two-phase application process.

CFM prepared lobbying materials, organized meetings in Oregon and DC and secured enthusiastic support from the Oregon congressional delegation. In the following months, however, Tigard would be repeatedly informed by EDA that the Hunziker project was being held up by a variety of bureaucratic red tape.

With experience maneuvering the intricate processes of federal agencies, CFM began organizing conference calls with EDA officials and coordinated outreach with the congressional delegation to help move the project over bureaucratic stumbling blocks.

Result

Working with the Oregon delegation and City staff, CFM helped secure $2,100,000 in EDA grant funding for infrastructure improvements in the Hunziker Core, one of the largest grants awarded in the region. With funding in hand, Tigard’s Hunziker Industrial Core public infrastructure project is underway. When complete, the project will improve access to 138 acres of underdeveloped industrial property attracting an estimated $36 million in private investment that will create between 150 and 300 high-skill, high-wage jobs.

Willamette Water Supply Program: Making sure our taps do not run dry

Willamette Water Supply Program: Making sure our taps do not run dry

Overview

The challenge of building and paying for public infrastructure is a growing problem across the nation. Projects, whether roads, sewers or fresh drinking water systems, are enormously complex. They are expensive, take a decade or more to plan and build and extend over many political cycles. Add to this mixture, environmental permitting and concerns about growth and land use and it is easy to see how proposed large public infrastructure projects can fall off the rails.

Challenge

Tualatin Valley Water District and the City of Hillsboro retained CFM to provide ongoing public affairs counsel to support their Willamette River Water Supply program. The billion-dollar water project will bring Willamette River water into densely populated north Washington County communities in 2026.  CFM was asked to help program leaders anticipate and address public and elected leader concerns before they arose.

Approach

CFM was incorporated into the project planning team from its first day, working in harness with engineers, planners, and public outreach specialists. CFM contributed its knowledge of Washington County communities to the project’s risk register. The firm’s relationships with leaders from across the county allowed it to provide early briefings about the project to elected officials, business leaders and other significant stakeholders.

A scenario-driven crisis communications plan was developed and key project leaders received media training. A public affairs working group, consisting of project leadership and CFM staff, meets on a regular basis to ensure that every challenge is evaluated and addressed well before problems bubble to the surface.

Result

The Willamette Water Supply Program has in place strong working relationships with each of the jurisdictions it will touch. CFM continues to manage what amounts to an early warning system that will allow project leaders to respond quickly and effectively to public concerns as they arise. 

Restarting a Stalled Water Project

Overview

Lake Oswego and Tigard: Restarting a Stalled Water Project

Lake Oswego and Tigard formed an innovative partnership to meet their future water needs through an expansion of Lake Oswego’s existing water infrastructure, which included a treatment plant located in West Linn. But the project encountered stiff heads winds and was stalled. CFM urged a pause to allow time for re-engaging the communities most impacted, addressing concerns and modifying the water treatment plan design. It worked.

Challenge

To move forward, the project depended on gaining land use and environmental permits from Gladstone, West Linn and multiple state and federal agencies. Planners and engineers did their work. Community outreach went according to plan. But when the proposed water intake, pipelines and plant came into focus before the West Linn Planning Commission, opponents gained the upper hand.

Approach

CFM partner Norm Eder worked closely with project managers and their legal team to suggest a pause in the land use process to the planning commission to address concerns about the project. The planning commission agreed. For the next four months efforts were made to meet the demands of opponents through a wide variety of approaches, ranging from independent mediation to design modifications and one-one discussions. The fiercest opponents, however, were not satisfied but project leaders were gained by being perceived as reasonable, flexible and willing to meet opponents’ objections more than halfway.

The project partners returned to the planning commission where its land use application was denied. CFM and project leaders then turned their attention to an appeal of the decision to West Linn’s City Council. Assisted by CFM, the partnership developed its appeal and built broad community understanding of the importance of the project for West Linn citizens, focusing on savings and the importance of backup water supply. Opponents doubled down on their grassroots efforts. They launched a mass petition drive, wrote weekly angry commentary in the local paper, posted lawn signs and pressured local merchants and City Council members to oppose the project.

Result

The City Council ultimately voted 4-0 to reverse the decision of its planning commission. The council noted the Partnership had demonstrated good faith in addressing opponent concerns and built a strong case based on West Linn’s needs and code requirements.

But the story did not end there. Opponents took aim at slowing or stopping two necessary ingredients of the project. The Partnership needed an easement to construct a pipeline by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. The project also needed a Corps of Engineers permit to improve the fresh water intake on the Clackamas River. CFM helped mobilize project supporters in Salem and Washington, DC to secure the easement and all environmental permits in a timely fashion.

Construction began in July 2013 and, once complete, it will become an important part of the Portland area’s water infrastructure.

Manufacturing 21: Suite of CFM Services Drives Coalition's Success

Manufacturing 21: Suite of CFM services drive Coalitions success

A CFM survey identified a serious problem for the region’s manufacturing industry: It had a Rodney Dangerfield challenge — no respect. Although manufacturing made up nearly 20 percent of the region’s economy and employed 14 percent of the workforce, its contributions were little appreciated. A handful of companies, working with the Portland Development Commission and Clackamas County, turned to CFM to create the Manufacturing 21 Coalition.

CFM services played a vital role:

  • Public Affairs: CFM organized the Coalition, which grew from a small core group to more than 80 members. CFM Partner Norm Eder has served as the Coalition’s executive director and the firm has provided support services.
  • Research: Early in the process, CFM assessed manpower, training and skill-set needs among Manufacturing 21 members to shape an agenda. Research consisted of one-on-one executive interviews and an online survey.
  • State and Federal lobbying: Once formed, the Coalition turned its attention to key industry concerns, such as encouraging public investments in industry-scale applied research and workforce training. CFM won local and federal appropriations to support the R&D and worker training agenda. State lobbying secured additional support.
  • Public Relations: To give the Coalition a voice and tell memorable stories, CFM created a website and conducted media relations.

Results: Since the Coalition was formed, it has raised millions of dollars in federal support, as well as creating partnerships with the region’s colleges, universities and worker training centers. The Coalition has become the go-to voice for the manufacturing.

Putting sewer controversy in the past

Putting sewer controversy in the past

Overview

Clackamas County Service District #1, governed by the County and managed by Water Environment Services (WES), came to a dead end in 2007 in its effort to increase sewage treatment capacity. A group of well-organized citizens had stopped a proposed regional plan, leaving the community divided and deeply suspicious of the county commission.

Challenge:

All the proposed options were expensive – demanding significant increases in sewer rates. And, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality threatened to impose controls on development if new capacity was not built.

CFM was retained to help the county re-start the public dialogue about wastewater treatment investments and to work with county leadership, creating a regional agreement about how to move forward. The ultimate goal was to build a major sewage plant to meet the District’s needs for 15 years.

Approach

CFM fielded two telephone surveys to assess customer values and concerns. Next, CFM and WES staff created a stand-alone issues-only website – www.Riverhealth.org – and launched the county’s first e-newsletter targeting opinion leaders. At the same time, CFM reached out to activist citizens who opposed recent county wastewater decisions. A new citizens’ advisory committee was started. CFM also developed a two-step strategy to build a long-term regional agreement.

Results

A new state-of-the-art, $130 million wastewater plant will be opened in Oregon City in early 2011, successfully financed through long-term bonds supported by hefty rate increases for District customers. Once-hostile citizen activists are satisfied the County Commission listens to their opinions and it has made the best decisions possible. A regional advisory committee is looking to the future and the County Board has demonstrated its ability to provide strong and decisive leadership. 

Fort Clatsop Burns

Overview

14921908_ml (1).jpg

Imagine thousands of history buffs lining the Plymouth, Massachusetts harbor in 1957, waiting for the arrival of a Mayflower replica. The ship sinks before Pilgrim re-enactors can board. That never happened, but in essence, something similar occurred to the replica of Fort Clatsop on the Oregon Coast. In October 2005, the fort was set to be center stage for the 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark’s arrival at the Pacific. But the fort was destroyed by fire. 

Challenge

The goal was to preserve the reputation of the newly formed Lewis and Clark National Historic Park headquartered at the fort. A beloved Oregon icon, news of the fort’s early morning blaze captured the lead spot in local news coverage. It was an intensely covered story in the Northwest for weeks. Complicating matters, the park service and the State of Oregon were rushing to complete the six-mile Fort-To-Sea Trail as a legacy of the bicentennial. 

Approach

Less than a year earlier, CFM helped the park service and Fort-to-Sea Trail team create a crisis communications plan. Bad news scenarios were created for the trail building project. Key messages, contact lists and staff assignments were developed. The park supervisor took the plan to heart, and thoroughly discussed it with staff. When the fort replica burned late at night, the fort staff borrowed pages from the trail crisis plan and put it to work. 

Result

TV crews, newspaper reporters and Oregon’s Governor arrived at the park early the next morning. Park superintendent Chip Jenkins commanded a calm, clear set of messages despite experiencing a profound sense of loss. The park service maintained its credibility, even when it was discovered a spark from a candle accidently started the blaze, and not arson as first thought. The National Park Service says CFM’s advance work helped it survive the crisis and preserve its reputation.

SERA Architects & City of Portland: Helping Out City Hall

Overview

It is the only building to ever serve as Portland City Hall. As it approached its 100th year in 1995, City Hall was declared a dangerous building, in need of safety improvements and compliance with seismic rules. The question: Should the building be saved?

Challenge

Anticipating public skepticism about investing in the building, the architects given the job of renovating City Hall added CFM to their development team. CFM was asked to create a strategic plan on how to communicate the value of the project to the public – and even to some city officials. Criticism occurred as the project ran over budget, in part due to a tight labor market and unexpected costs associated with renovating a building with un-reinforced masonry walls.

Approach

With only a shoestring budget, CFM met the criticism head-on with a straight-talking fact sheet and other materials that established the relative value of renovation versus starting over with new construction. The materials talked candidly about cost overruns and explained why they occurred and what was being done to mitigate other costs. Working with the architects, CFM stressed visual dimensions of the newly renovated City Hall.

Result

Once City Hall was complete enough for tours, CFM pushed people into the building for sneak previews so they could experience the new look that included restored light corridors, which showered the previously dark interior of the building with rays of natural sunlight. Public opinion turned in favor of the project. Today, Portland City Hall is a point of architectural and civic pride.

Tapping History to Sell New Development

Overview

When the Blitz-Weinhard brewery in Portland closed, the developers who purchased the five-block site in the emerging Pearl District turned to CFM for help in selling their ambitious plan. They wanted to renovate the historic brewhouse and undertake a massive sustainable development project.

Challenge

The reaction to a project of this scale by key stakeholders in the Pearl District and at Portland City Hall was unknown. The site was hallowed ground, having served as a brewery since 1862 before its owners closed it and sold the property to Gerding/Edlen, a respected developer. Carefully considered steps were needed to launch the project.

Approach

Following stakeholder research, CFM implemented a rollout effort that included a one-page newsletter that Bob Gerding and Mark Edlen, the developers, hand-delivered to many of the neighboring businesses. A visual PowerPoint used for briefings also was created. And, for a kickoff announcement, CFM produced a video featuring some of the best and funniest TV spots for Henry Weinhard beer. CFM also wrote and produced collateral materials that described some of the colorful history of the brewery, and the old Portland Armory, also part of the site.

Result

The strategic communications plan resulted in a continuous flow of news articles, almost all positive, about the development, including its significance as one of the City's largest historic redevelopment projects. Strong local support, including an editorial endorsement from The Oregonian, was secured. Today the Brewery Blocks is a national example of sustainable development.

Pet Food Manufacturers: Sending the Pet Food Sales Tax to Doggie Heaven

Overview

In a move to free up general fund revenues for other programs, Multnomah County political leaders rolled out a proposal for a pet food sales tax to fund Animal Control services.

Challenge

CFM was retained by pet food manufacturers to stop the tax.

Approach

CFM created a grassroots organization of pet owners to protest the selective sales tax. CFM also looped in the support of the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, Guide Dog Users and retailers. Letters began to pour in to county officials, who assumed there would be little community outcry about the tax. The media focused on the news angle of what the increased cost could mean to volunteers who train guide dogs.

Result

At the first public hearing on the proposed tax, more than 60 people showed up and testified in opposition to the tax. The flood of negative attention prompted county leaders to withdraw their tax proposal and instead appoint a task force to look at alternative ways to pay for Animal Control services. CFM assisted in rounding up information from elsewhere in the nation for the task force, which pushed aside any consideration of the pet food sales tax.

Snohomish PUD: Washington Utility Excused from Oregon Property Tax

Overview

Oregon tax officials sent hefty property tax bills to three public utilities in the state of Washington for their contractual rights to ship electricity on a high voltage power line running through Oregon. The public utilities, which serve electric consumers in Seattle, Tacoma and Everett, went to court objecting to the property tax levy.

Before a judgment was reached in the court case, two of the public utilities went to the Oregon legislature asking for a remedy. Caught in a policy no man's land, the third utility – Snohomish Public Utility District – retained CFM to pursue its own legislative remedy.

Challenge

The Seattle and Tacoma utilities advanced a policy argument that they should be exempt from Oregon personal property tax because city-owned utilities in Oregon are exempt. That argument didn't work for Snohomish PUD because people’s utility districts (PUDs) in Oregon are subject to local property taxation.

Approach

Using its extensive background on revenue matters, CFM worked carefully with the Oregon Department of Revenue to hone the argument that a stronger policy basis for an exemption extended to all three public utilities – none of them possessed tangible assets in Oregon. Their contractual right to use a power line under federal control, itself exempt from Oregon property tax, did not constitute adequate nexus.

Result

Despite varying degrees of opposition from local government, Oregon PUDs and Oregon rural electric cooperatives, CFM prevailed with its argument in lobbying legislative leaders and the governor. A property tax exemption for all three utilities was placed into a late-session omnibus tax measure in the Senate, which subsequently was approved by the House and signed into law by the governor. 

Associated General Contractors: Preserving Workers' Compensation Benefits

Overview

Maneuvering under the cloak of trying to create a rainy day fund for Oregon, a coalition of interests set their sights on raiding the reserve account of the State Accident Insurance Fund (SAIF)

Challenge

Representing the Associated General Contractors in Oregon, CFM set to work to defend SAIF and protect its reserves, which accrue from premium dollars paid into the workers' compensation fund by employers such as AGC.

Approach

The battle turned out to be one of the major conflicts in the 2001 legislative session, with CFM leading the effort to bottle up anti-SAIF legislation in committee. Proponents didn't give up and mounted efforts to try to attach amendments to bills in other committees.

Result

CFM was involved in stopping each effort that put millions of dollars in premiums at risk. The SAIF funds were safe.

Westside Economic Alliance: Breaking Gridlock with Information

Overview

16151204_m.jpg

Two economic development organizations serving the area west of Portland, Oregon – the heart of the state's high tech industry – contemplated merging, but never could come to a final decision. The groups had similar missions and overlapping memberships.

Challenge

Determine what corporate stakeholders wanted.

Approach

CFM conducted a series of one-on-one interviews and prepared findings and recommendations. By an overwhelming majority, stakeholders said they preferred a single economic development voice for their interests. They spelled out what their priorities were, giving clear direction to the boards of both organizations.

Result

The groups overcame all obstacles and merged into the Westside Economic Alliance six months after CFM issued its report. 

American Electronics Association: Splintering Myths about High Tech

Overview

As the high technology industry grew, eclipsing the forest products industry as Oregon's largest manufacturing sector in the 1990s, grumbling turned to flat-out criticism about allegedly low wages paid by electronics firms when, in fact, the industry was driving up wage rates.

Challenge

To set the record straight, the Oregon Council of the American Electronics Association (AeA) launched an annual industry performance survey. CFM was asked to help turn around public perceptions using data from what became known as the Oregon Technology Benchmarks.

Approach

Publicizing the first Benchmarks and the annual updates that have followed (1995-2001), CFM developed outreach vehicles aimed at business writers throughout Oregon, who were given sneak previews of new data to encourage coverage – before and after actual data was released. CFM helped organize an annual benchmarks conference, which included access to high tech executives and economists for one-on-one interviews.

Result

Coverage for the 1995 benchmarks was widespread throughout the Northwest and the event became the premier annual forum for the high technology industry. The benchmarks and easy media access to the data were described by the publisher of Oregon Business magazine as one of the best communications campaigns he had seen.

Multnomah County, Oregon: Influencing Bridge Construction

Overview

The Broadway Bridge crossing the Willamette River in Portland is a vital transportation link – and it desperately needed a new deck and others repairs. The question: Totally shut it down and get the job done as fast and economically as possible? Or, only partially close it during renovation, maintaining limited traffic flow?

Challenge

Multnomah County retained CFM to reach stakeholders to learn their views on various closure options for the heavily used span. The challenge was to find a better way to get feedback than holding a series of public meetings, which rarely give a clear view of public opinion.

Approach

CFM used an online survey. Would-be respondents were directed to a page on the county’s Web site detailing the pros and cons of the options. News releases generated stories, which in turn drove up participation. As a group, survey takers preferred a total closure. But, the survey allowed the county to better discern undercurrents. Business operators on both sides of the river strongly believed an outright closure would harm them.

Result

Print and electronic media covered the story as CFM fetched responses from almost 1,700 persons, far more than would have showed up at public meetings. The comments gave county officials a clear sense of the priorities. The county modified the construction schedule to allow reduced use of the span during reconstruction. 

National Park Service & State of Oregon: Funding the Fort-To-Sea Trail Project

Fort_To_Sea_iconjpg.jpg

Overview

This is the story of an extraordinary public-private partnership that has gained attention at the highest levels of the U.S. Department of Interior, the National Parks Service and the White House. And it’s a story of a highly effective, proactive, Web-centered communications program.

Challenge

The goal of the National Park Service was to fulfill a 50-year-old dream of building a six-mile hiking trail replicating the path members of Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery, trekked between Fort Clatsop and the Pacific Ocean during the winter of 1805-1806. Matching funds were needed to complete what would become a lasting legacy of the region's Lewis and Clark bicentennial observance in November 2005.

Approach

Working (pro bono) with the engineering firm of David Evans and Associates, CFM created a Web site (www.forttosea.org) that essentially served as an electronic view book supporting the fundraising efforts. The site was conceived as a magazine, with different features posted each month between August 2004 and January 2006. News releases for milestone events, such as major donations or construction benchmarks, were used to drive media and stakeholders to the site.

Result

The communications program helped the project raise $3.2 million in cash and in-kind donations. The Web site won two national awards: PRNews magazine judged it the best Web site in its 2005 Non-Profit PR Awards competition; and the International Association of Business Communicators gave the project a 2006 Gold Quill Award of Excellence. 

Private K-12 School: Managing the Unthinkable

Overview

It was the last place many parents would think their children would fall victim to a rapist. But the administration of a private K-12 school found itself in that unthinkable position when a 27-year old teacher was arrested and charged with raping two young girls and molesting another.

Challenge

Stunned by the seriousness of the situation, the school board turned to CFM for crisis communications help.

Approach

CFM immediately established three guiding principles: 1) Be open and candid; 2) Address the fear and anger of parents; and 3) Begin a process to prevent this from happening again. Hours after learning of the arrest, school officials were the first to notify parents and staff of the charges and ongoing investigation. They were invited to an emergency meeting. To keep the commitment to be open and candid, CFM established an opportunity for the media to meet with school officials prior to the parent meeting.

Result

Once the situation was publicly discussed, it was time to turn attention to assuring the future safety of students. A parent and teacher task force was assembled to look at school policies and procedures and recommend changes. Hiring practices were examined and a new policy requiring background checks for all school personnel was implemented.

Grocery Manufacturers Association: Reversing Early Support Defeats Costly Labeling Law

Overview

One of Europe's most controversial issues, mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods, faced its first test with U.S. voters on the 2002 Oregon ballot (Measure 27). CFM played a lead role in creating a communications program to defeat the measure.

Challenge

Just 10 weeks before the election, polls in the media showed 65 percent of Oregon voters favoring Measure 27. Research showed initial support for labeling was based on consumers' belief that they have a right to information, not concerns about the safety of biotech foods. That differed from public attitudes in Europe, where labeling proponents based their support on unsupported food safety fears raised by activists opposed to biotechnology.

Approach

Polling suggested that when Oregon consumers understood how biotech foods are regulated and how much labeling would cost, initial support for labeling withered. As part of the campaign, CFM contacted Oregon editors, resulting in editorials in all the state's major newspapers opposing the measure. During the campaign, CFM handled nearly as many media contacts from outside Oregon as from within.

Result

When votes were counted, 71 percent of voters resoundingly rejected Measure 27. European media seemed surprised by Measure 27's overwhelming defeat, as Oregon voters never responded to the food safety fears raised by backers of the measure. The Oregonian noted in its post-election editorial, "If such ideas...can't pass in Oregon, they have a fruit fly's chance of surviving in most other states."

Committee for SAIF Keeping: No on 38

Overview

When Liberty Northwest, a private insurance company, succeeded in getting its initiative (Measure 38) to abolish the State Accident Insurance Fund (SAIF) on the November 2004 state ballot, Oregon businesses faced the threat of losing affordable workers compensation insurance. The Committee for SAIF-Keeping hired CFM to forge the communications that soundly defeated the measure and saved SAIF.

Challenge

The measure made the ballot during a time when SAIF experienced a series of controversial stories about its leadership and management practices. CFM’s challenge was to convince voters that SAIF is vital to Oregon businesses and the state’s economy. In addition to combating SAIF’s tainted image, the committee was up against a huge insurance conglomerate with deep pockets, willing to spend millions to rid itself of its largest competitor in Oregon. Proponents of Measure 38 set a state record for campaign spending.

Approach

Research shaped our strategy by pinpointing issues that most affected voters’ decisions. We knew the proposal could be defeated with clearly defined and targeted messages. We knew we had to use voters’ negative views of big campaign spending. Liberty’s excesses became a lens through which voters saw the campaign. A variety of tools were used including a highly interactive Web site that could be used to react quickly to campaign developments.

Result

CFM convinced every editor in Oregon writing about Measure 38 to editorialize in opposition. Voters defeated Measure 38 by a margin of 61 to 39 percent.

American Red Cross: Standing in the Breach

Overview

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Americans desperately wanted to help victims. Thousands turned to the American Red Cross, which was the most visible agency providing emergency services in New York and Washington, D.C. The response was unprecedented in its scope – and it overwhelmed the Oregon Trail Chapter, which happened to be undergoing a transition in its communications department.

Challenge

The chapter needed help from communications professionals who could hit the road running – and run fast. The Oregon Trail Chapter called CFM.

Approach

CFM immediately assigned one of its own staff members to work full-time on-site. He wrote key messages, set priorities, tracked requests and made staff assignments. Amid the chaos, he developed plans for the chapter to capitalize on its sudden attention. Then the mood turned. National media criticized the Red Cross for its fund distribution program. CFM counseled chapter leaders on the best ways to cope, refocusing the community's attention on the good work and responsible practices of the local chapter.

Result

Today the Red Cross continues to be the first to respond to disasters and provide help for people facing emergencies. The Oregon Trail Chapter is building on its good reputation to promote a message that all Oregon families need to be prepared to deal with a future emergency.