A high number of people who work in Newport are commuting to their jobs, due to a lack of available housing. The Newport Chamber of Commerce has issued a plea asking for people who have rental properties to make them available to those who are looking to live in Newport. Director of the Newport Economic Development Commission John Chadwell says the situation could become more of a problem as new businesses are expected to open in Newport later this year.
“We have more people who work in town than live in town,” said Chadwell. “There are about 800 people a day who commute into Jackson County to work. A lot of those folks would like to live closer to where they work and are looking in Newport and the Newport area for housing. The lack of housing has put a real crunch on both housing for sale and rental housing, but particularly rental housing. We have a call-out for anyone who is thinking about rental housing, or might have rental housing or develop rental housing to contact us and see if we can put that information on a list we can give people when they stop by.”
Chadwell says it is a positive thing to have more people who want to live in Newport. Last week’s announcements that the old Wal-Mart building is being developed into several new businesses, coupled with other businesses that are looking to build in town, is expected to drive more people to the region, according to Chadwell. He tells what kinds of properties people are looking for.
“What we’ve had requests for are 2 to 4 bedroom homes that people could rent. A lot of these people are moving here and have a house somewhere else, and so they would like to rent until they could sell their house, and then turn around and buy something in Newport. Most people don’t want to own multiple homes, so we are looking for something that would accommodate a family of 3 to 5 people that would come in and have a place to stay.”
Chadwell says plans are also being put in place to spur the development and construction of additional housing and rental properties in the area.
“We are looking at several different scenarios for encouraging new home construction and options for building new rental properties, such as nice apartments and condos. It is something that we have really begun to explore because there is such a need. Hopefully over this year, we will come up with some strategies to encourage further development, but the biggest strategy for development comes from the marketplace. The more people want it, the more people will come in and build because they can make money by building or renting nice apartments and that will also spur the development.”
According to Chadwell, one of the keys that are turning Newport around has been a focus on always looking forward to see what improvements should be made, and working toward those goals. He says while it is important to look for new economic development strategies, it is also important to take care of existing companies and businesses. He says taking care of the companies that have been there for many years and encouraging the growth of the new opportunities is a balancing act, but he says it is starting to pay off in the amount of interest Newport is starting to get from businesses and from those who are wanting to make Newport their home.