Public Agencies

Strengthening Tigard’s Industrial Core

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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.

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. 

Coalition of County Children and Families Commissions Funding County Services for Families

Overview

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The Coalition is an unusual entity -- a group of 36 very disparate county programs with a united goal: To fund local commissions adequately in each of the counties despite all of their differences. Before the 2007 legislative session, the Coalition turned to CFM to represent it in Salem. The result? In 2007, CFM worked with Coalition members to convince legislators to provide additional money for Coalition programs, especially "basic capacity and local flexible funds" that local staff use to mobilize volunteers, leverage local and federal money and serve children and their families.

Challenge

The recession in Oregon, with its resulting loss of state revenue, has made it difficult to fund important state programs -- K-12 education, higher education, public safety, general social services -- and specific services provided by the Children and Family Services enterprise. In this context, all-important state programs would have to compete against all other state programs, especially because, with only a few exceptions, taxes were not increased.

Approach

CFM capitalized on its existing relationship with legislators on the Joint Ways and Means Committee, as well as asked local Coalition members to contact their local legislators directly as constituents. In two cases, the good news was that local Coalition members had relationships with key members of the Ways and Means Committee, including the co-chairs of the full committee and the chairs of the Human Services Subcommittee. In a series of private meetings and public contacts, CFM emphasized the importance of the Children and Families system, the commitment to prevention as a hallmark of services and return on investment generated by state dollars.

Result

CFM helped to increase awareness and support among legislators while, at the same time, increasing dollars in 2007 and holding the line against cuts in 2009. 

Revitalizing Downtown Vancouver, Washington

Overview

One of CFM’s most successful projects during the last few years, Vancouver’s Downtown Waterfront Redevelopment Project, epitomizes CFM’s way of doing business. We look under every rock, work every angle and clearly communicate with elected officials about the needs and benefits of worthy projects.

Challenge

The City of Vancouver was operating under tight timelines to secure millions for infrastructure improvements linked to a $1.3 billion downtown redevelopment project.

Approach

CFM helped the city target and apply for funds in five separate federal accounts, lobbied the congressional delegation and agency officials on behalf of the project, and coordinated a grassroots effort to mobilize support.

Result

In just two years, CFM helped Vancouver secure more than $7.6 million in federal earmarks, stimulus funds and other streams of federal funding to revitalize the downtown area and meet the project deadlines. 

Marion County, Oregon: Creating a Safe Environment for Kids

Overview

Marion County leaders needed to stem the plague of youth issues caused by drugs and parents who cycle through the criminal justice system, leaving hundreds of children without proper parental attention. CFM met this significant challenge by helping to create, brand and, ultimately, secure millions of dollars for Marion County’s “Kids First” initiative, a comprehensive network of local programs that serve children in high-risk families affected by methamphetamine addiction.

Challenge

Marion County has unique child welfare challenges not shared by other Oregon counties or across the nation. As home to five of the state’s 14 correctional institutions, Marion County faced a significant problem with intergenerational issues of drug abuse, criminal history, child abuse and poor parental attention and care. The county had a serious drug problem, particularly with methamphetamine abuse. For more than eight years, Marion County had been designated by the federal government as a “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.”

Approach

CFM worked with community leaders to highlight the innovative, evidence-based approaches Marion County developed to break the cycle of intergenerational drug abuse, crime and family violence affecting local children. Kids First represented a partnership of more than six local agencies and programs. Leveraging this partnership, CFM worked to brand and market the project to Congress as one comprehensive initiative, with the ability to achieve results.

Result

CFM achieved name recognition for the Kids First project among the delegation and was successful in securing funding for the project four years in a row. Total federal funding for Marion County’s Kids First initiative now tops more than $2 million. 

City of Longview, Washington: Securing Emergency Water Funds

Overview

When the City of Longview, Washington needed federal assistance to address a pending water shortage and funding shortfall, the CFM Federal Lobbying team put together a comprehensive legislative strategy that delivered more than half a million dollars. In the end, thankfully, there was no water shortage. However, with the funding secured, the dredging permit and the emergency plan in place, the City of Longview received the

comprehensive service CFM had promised.

Challenge

CFM was hired a week before the appropriations deadline in Congress. We also were facing the possibility of an emergency water shortage within six months. CFM needed to act quickly to coordinate a federal funding strategy and also ensure we addressed a possible water shortage by devising a comprehensive plan that involved federal and state regulatory agencies.

Approach

Within a week, CFM prepared and organized a trip for City officials to visit their congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. Also in a short time, CFM researched funding options, submitted appropriations requests, prepared project “white papers,” contacted federal and state agencies, coordinated grassroots support for the water project and briefed congressional staff.

Result

Working with the Washington Congressional delegation, CFM helped the City of Longview secure $500,000 for construction of a new water treatment facility, $70,000 for reimbursement costs for damage done to the existing water treatment facility and established emergency response plans with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Environmental Protection Agency, Corps of Engineers and Department of Ecology. CFM also helped the City obtain an emergency-dredging permit should the City face low flows in the late summer or fall. , the City of Longview received the comprehensive services CFM had promised.

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.

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. 

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

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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. 

Marion County: Oregon Starting Early, Hard Work Gets the Fund

Silver Falls located in Marion County.

Silver Falls located in Marion County.

Overview

Marion County in Oregon needed federal funding for several important projects, including efforts to combat illegal drug manufacturing.

Challenge

Anyone who has dealt with the Congressional appropriations process knows it is important to start early, usually the first of the year, to ensure your project gets into the funding "hopper." It just so happened that Marion County hired CFM in June – somewhat late in game.

Approach

CFM began by mobilizing the County's allies on Capitol Hill – we even found a few new ones along the way.

Result

A few short months later, CFM was able to help the County secure more than $700,000 to fight meth lab manufacturing and arm County parole/probation officers with the necessary tools to track convicted offenders. County leaders were happy with the immediate payoff.

Fort Vancouver Regional Library District

Overview

The Fort Vancouver Regional Library District has never charged late fees for overdue materials. Some board members proposed changing that policy and charging patrons late fees for overdue books. District managers wanted to know what library patrons thought about the proposal.

Challenge

How to interview a large number of library patrons across a four-county area during a short period of time to get community input and help the library board with decision-making.

Approach

CFM recommended a Web-based survey among FVRL’s 17,000 patrons for whom they had email addresses. CFM designed a survey to determine priorities for the district and determine opinions about the proposed late fees among patrons age 16 and older. More than 3,000 persons participated.

Result

The message was clear, more books, more services and no late fees. In fact, patrons who use library services at least once a week, the district’s best customers, opposed fees. The board listened and decided to table the proposal.