By JIM HUNT
author, speaker, consultant
As we drove towards the Hillsboro, Oregon City Hall, I looked up and saw four giant Sequoia trees lining the sidewalk in front of the Washington County Courthouse. The trees towered over 150 feet and were well over twenty feet in circumference. According to the plaque at the base of the trees, they were planted over 120 years ago and now dwarf the courthouse. As we walked up to the Hillsboro City Hall, the trees were reflected in the modern wall of glass of the city building.
The Hillsboro City Hall is a beautiful building and features a large plaza in front that serves as a community gathering place for fairs and festivals throughout the year. A feature that I did not see until we were in the 5th floor conference room was a colorful arrangement of colored concrete in the plaza that was explained to us to depict the Sequoia trees if seen from above.
Hillsboro is Oregon’s 5th largest city with nearly 100,000 residents and is located just a few miles from Portland. The city grew out of a small farming community and still has working farms located next to high-tech companies and manufacturing operations. The computer chip company, Intel, has over 18,000 employees working on three campuses in the city and many other high-tech companies have located in the city. Solar World, the country’s largest manufacturer of solar panels, has a manufacturing plant in Hillsboro and you can see a large solar “farm” in front of the company headquarters with hundreds of solar panels. With all the high-tech jobs, it came as no surprise that over 4,500 PhD’s reside in the city.
We were in Hillsboro to present an Innovation Forum on behalf of the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program and City Manager Michael Brown served as our host for the event. Michael presented a very interesting program on the city and how it has grown and developed. The city recently went through a visioning exercise and has developed “Hillsboro 2035”, a plan that is in place and lays out the goals for the city over the next 17 years. The city is committed to building an inclusive community and has many plans to welcome in new residents from throughout the world as they grow and develop.
The city is also committed to developing a world-class parks and recreation program and is working on greenways and neighborhood parks to improve the quality of life for its residents. A minor-league baseball team named the “Hops” play at the Ron Tonkin field and provides local residents with an enjoyable family experience throughout the summer.
Hillsboro is very committed to energy efficiency and has produced a Community Environmental Sustainability Report that outlines a very aggressive effort to reduce energy usage and promote good environmental practices. In front of City Hall and at other locations throughout the city, electric charging stations are provided for battery powered vehicles. An increasing number of solar panels are observed throughout the city and on hundreds of houses throughout the neighborhoods. The city manager explained that the Mayor and City Council are always looking for new ways to conserve energy and have become a leader in Oregon for many of the innovative programs they have developed.
I was very impressed with the city of Hillsboro and look forward to visiting again. If you are ever visiting the Pacific Northwest, take time to visit Hillsboro, a truly Amazing City!