Robert Wallace

Robert Wallace

1) Why did you decide to run for a position on the Port of The Dalles board?

I’m rural.  I have a passion to figure out how rural areas can prosper.  It’s my goal to see areas such as The Dalles & Dufur think outside the box and find what makes them special.  We need to think big and plan for the next 20+ years of growth. 

I live in Dufur, as I mentioned earlier, I’m the first Dufur area individual in several years to serve as a Commissioner for the Port of The Dalles.  I get excited thinking about the future and what our region’s growth can look like over the next 20+ years.  We will need to conduct business differently going forward, this is a large part to the limited amount of available industrial land in our district. 

I feel we are in an exciting time and there are several opportunities available for the Port of The Dalles to pursue.  I’d like to create opportunities for the next generations to prosper in this region.  I’d like to create workforce training opportunities, the ability for our local High School & Community College Graduates to move into a skilled trade positions after graduation.  I don’t want to lose sight of our rich cultural history; how do we match this history with new technology(s) and opportunities.  

The Port of The Dalles is in a great position to help move the local region forward in a positive direction, I’d like to be a part of that effort.    

2) What is your background/profession, and where do you live?

I was born and raised in Wasco County, graduated Dufur High School and then pursued an Associates Degree from Blue Mountain Community College.  I have two kids, Parker (18 years old, Dufur High School Senior) and Peyton (13 years old, Dufur Middle School 8th grade).  I live in Dufur and have been involved in numerous community activities over the years.  You can typically find me at a Dufur Rangers sporting event, Go Rangers!

I have worked for three separate companies in the Port area, I assisted two of these companies to purchase land and build new operation facilities on Port Property.  I understand several of the challenges that our businesses face, I also see several opportunities of locating a business in the Port of The Dalles District.

I’m currently the Executive Director for WyEast Recourse Conservation and Development Council.  I’m a Certified Energy Manager, I provide project development assistance to Rural Small Businesses and Agricultural Producers for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.  A majority of my work focuses on water & energy efficiency, working with the Agriculture Sector on irrigation efficiency projects.  The past couple of years we have been working on a project to test electric tractors and focus on electrifying agriculture; these electric powered units are shipped into Dufur to be field tested and setup with remote data sensor systems then deployed to farms for further evaluation.  I’ve managed multiple conservation innovation projects; we have evaluated a number of new technologies to see how it can be best utilized for agricultural producers and rural small businesses. 

3) What will your top priorities be if voters select you to serve on the board?

Business Expansion & Retention –

The past 14 months of the COVID pandemic has been extremely challenging on several of our local businesses.  We need to make sure our current businesses have the support they need to survive this challenging time.

We need to work with our existing regional businesses to look at opportunities and strategies to retain our existing jobs and expand the businesses that are already in our community.

We need to continue to collaborate with our local partners such as the City of The Dalles, City of Dufur, Wasco County, Columbia Gorge Community College, Regional Solutions, Small Business Development Center, Main Street, Work Source Oregon, Chamber of Commerce, Mid-Columbia Economic Development District and other non-profit organizations.  This is an ongoing effort to help grow business & industry from within, we have several very successful businesses in our area varying in size…how can we help these businesses expand and create more family wage jobs.         

Available Buildable Industrial Land

The Port of The Dalles currently has a limited number of acres of “Available Buildable Industrial Land”.  And, most the properties that are available are smaller in size, less than 5 acres.  This limits the available space for companies to consider when they look at The Dalles area.  Most the large industrial properties are owned by companies that have plans to develop these properties, they are not available to purchase and be developed by private investors.

We need to continue working with the City of The Dalles and Wasco County to strategize on how to create additional buildable industrial land.  This includes expanding the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), we know UBG expansion is very complex and will likely take years.  As we continue the effort to expand the UGB, we also need to continue moving forward with what we can accomplish in the near future.       

Looking for Opportunities

I feel we need to look throughout the Port of The Dalles District for opportunities.  We need to look at the properties that may be able to be repurposed & developed.  We need to look at the opportunities that can be pursued in the near future, over the next 1 to 10 years.  I’d like to seek input from our existing businesses and community members, how should we move forward to increase family wage jobs throughout the Port District.    

We need to recruit new businesses and create value added markets that fit our community, markets that can bring new jobs to the region.  I see there being several opportunities to grow in the Clean Technology markets; these opportunities include:

  • Agriculture & Foods
  • Energy & Power
  • Resources & Environmental
  • Transportation & Logistics

I’d like to see more diversity with the types of business in the Port District.  We need to identity businesses that fit our community, our natural resources, and our workforce.    

We also need to have a long-range plan, looking for opportunities that may develop over the next 10 to 20 years.  This may include Urban Growth Boundary expansion, purchase of real estate to be developed, and infrastructure improvements.

I feel the Port of The Dalles District has several opportunities that can be pursued.  The Port needs to find where it may be able to support projects in a variety of different ways.  Some projects are best left to private investors, with support from the Port of The Dalles.  There may be other specific projects where the Port of The Dalles can help with public funding to move a project forward that wouldn’t otherwise happen.  The Port has prided itself with being fiscally responsible over the years, this must remain a top priority going forward.

4) What changes do you think the district needs to make?

According to his election filing, Wallace is currently employed as executive director/certified energy manager with Wy'East Resource Conservation and Development. He wrote, "I currently work with agricultural producers and rural small businesses to provide project development assistance for energy and water efficiency projects. I work with innovative technology to improve operations and efficiencies. I have worked for two separate manufacturing operations and one freight company that were all located in the Port of The Dalles.

Wallace is currently serving his first term as a port commissioner, and has past governmental experience on the Dufur School Board and as mayor of Dufur. Currently on the budget committee for the Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation Duistrict, and past budget committee for Columbia Gorge Education Service District.

He is a graduate of Dufur High School and holds an Associate of Arts degree from Blue Mountain Community College and CEM Certification in energy from the Association of Energy Engineers.