Working for a better Benton County

The 2040 Thriving Community Initiative seeks to build resiliency in Benton County

Jordyn Gregory, News Contributor

Community leaders have identified Core Values from the input of Benton County residents to use as a guiding light towards a healthier future in the 2040 Thriving Community Initiative.

Based on these values, the leaders will strategize and enact progress measures to address and combat long-term and complicated issues.

Dr. Allison Myers, associate dean for Extension and Engagement and the leader of the Family and Community Health Program says that meetings where people envision what they want their community’s future to look like are important because it keeps us moving in the intended direction, and that’s exactly what these Core Values will do. 


These identified Core Values include: 


Vibrant, Livable Communities

Supportive People & Resources 

High Quality Environment & Access 

Diverse Economy that Fits

Community Resilience 


Sean McGuire, sustainability coordinator for Benton County, states that “from Spring 2018 until 2020, we had this internal group that operationalized the Core Values, and that process… it basically kind of translated these ambitious values (into) something a government agency could actually use as a construct.”

For example, these constructs might look like our free public transit system, that not only lowers our carbon footprint, but it also encourages residents to walk more than if they were to take a personal vehicle. Oregon State University students who reside on or near the Corvallis campus have access to this transit system and also live in a very walkable area that is designed more so for pedestrians and less so for cars. 

OSU has collaborated with Benton County on 2040 TCI adjacent projects in past years. Brandon Trelstad, sustainability officer for OSU, says he “will play the sort of broker role of connecting projects with professors.” This allows OSU students to gain experience while also contributing to the public health and sustainability of the community. 

On OSU’s involvement, McGuire commented that “they are obviously a major player in our community, they have their own long range planning, and it is so rewarding, so exciting, to be a part of this where the other sustainability coordinators are working so closely together.”

McGuire said that the COVID-19 pandemic put the initiative on hold. 

“In January (and) February of 2020… we had been moving towards operationalizing the core values within our government, we were identifying and aggregating departmental goals and objectives, and then COVID hit, which really stunted what we’ve been doing,” McGuire said. 

But luckily, he said that they’ve really been picking up steam again since this last fall. 

On the topic of COVID-19, McGuire also stated that the pandemic really “put that mirror in our face,” which made them ask themselves if the community was resilient and they decided that yes, they were. 

The 2040 TCI wishes to reach all of their identified goals by the year 2040, but McGuire states that we can definitely have “a resilient, stable, prosperous future” much sooner than the year 2040.

If you’d like to learn more about the 2040 TCI or OSU’s past contributions to the initiative, visit their website at

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