March 22, 2012

On Friday, March 23, Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen delivered his annual State of the County speech to a sold-out crowd at the Governor Hotel.

The address, which is part of the City Club of Portland’s ongoing Friday Forum series, largely focused on the county’s significant role in serving the residents of Multnomah County and stressed the importance of building a community around the values of its citizens.Chair Cogen underscored Multnomah County’s commitment to providing services to those in need, despite the fact that the organization, like many individuals, has felt the blows of the economic downturn. The county, he said, has gone on to address these needs by “becoming more innovative and efficient with limited resources.”

Notable examples of the county’s innovation cited by the Chair include:

  • The opening of the Crisis Assessment and Treatment Center, a facility that helps people having a mental health crisis stabilize their symptoms without incurring the hefty costs of a hospital visit.
  • The Sellwood Bridge project, which will replace a rapidly deteriorating and hazardous neighborhood bridge, and create 400 jobs a year locally during the construction process.
  • The launch of a microloan program that leverages county dollars to create nearly $1 million in business loans from the private sector to be distributed to often disadvantaged women and minority entrepreneurs.

In the speech, Chair Cogen talked about how Multnomah County is becoming more resourceful in its business decisions. He highlighted reaching a new deal with the city of Portland on an Urban Renewal District that helps shape Portland State University’s future. Also, he talked about the county’s negotiations to develop the Morrison Bridgehead into potentially a public market and office space.

The Chair also stressed the importance of building a community that reflects the collective values of its citizens, such as equity, sustainability and protecting the safety of the public.

Related links:

Chair Cogen’s prepared remarks for his 2012 State of the County address.

Click here for audio of the address.