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Bi-State Cooperation Project

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On March 16, 2006, Governors Chris Gregoire and Ted Kulongoski met at the 2006 Bi-State Metropolitan Forum to address a group of public and private stakeholders from Oregon and Washington and to identify and discuss issues of mutual concern. Each Governor acknowledged the interdependence of the two states and the interconnectedness of the region's economy. They encouraged both public and private-sector leaders to ignore the state boundary and find areas in which cooperation could improve prosperity, quality of life, and government efficiency on both sides of the Columbia River.

Their comments reflect the opinions of a growing number of private and public sector leaders. During the conference breakout sessions, participants set forward ideas for cooperation which ranged from a bi-state compact for post-secondary education to the harmonization of standards for certified industrial sites. A common theme woven through many of the comments was the need to break through legal and bureaucratic hurdles that place unnecessary restrictions on cooperation between the states. Dozens of participants volunteered to work in groups to follow-up on the ideas generated during the conference.

At a meeting in the office of Congressman Brian Baird on August 11, 2006, a group of leaders from the Portland Vancouver Metropolitan Region continued the discussion and identified a number of potential benefits for more effective bi-state cooperation. However, they also recognized the need to make a strong case emphasizing the benefits of such cooperation to citizens on both sides of the border.

Evidence from Other States

A recently-published report by the Brookings Institution highlights multi-state cooperation as an increasingly important strategy for global competitiveness. Addressing this trend in a November 5 column in the Washington Post, Neal Peirce wrote, "Megaregions will be active units of the new global economy—its time we wake up and smell the coffee." More than 300 multi-state agreements currently exist and more are being developed to address a broad range of policy issues, including transportation, economic development, port management, homeland security and higher education to name a few.


The following are suggested as key products need to advance our progress:

  • An inventory of opportunities for bi-state cooperation that are difficult to capture in the current environment.
  • A review of how other states have benefited from developing a framework for bi-state or multi-state cooperation.
  • A summary of the key benefits available to the region using a bi-state cooperation framework.
  • A description of the key legal and organizational tools that can be used to provide a bi-state cooperation framework.


A team of faculty and students from WSU Vancouver and PSU's Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies is addressing the following questions:

  • What are the key policy areas that could benefit from bi-state cooperation?
  • What problems and barriers can be addressed by developing new tools for bi-state cooperation?
  • What are the structure and scope of successful interstate agreements, both here in the Pacific Northwest and in other regions?
  • What are the key benefits of existing and potential interstate cooperative arrangements?
  • What resources are available to assist in the development of interstate cooperative arrangements?

The primary source of information for this project is interviews with key stakeholders, particularly in the Oregon and Washington business community. This information will be supplemented with interviews with key public sector officials familiar with existing bi-state agreements, both here and in other states. We are also conducting a thorough review of public management literature to evaluate the scope and effectiveness of multi-state agreements.


This project is supported by the Bi-State Coordination Committee, which is chartered by member agencies to review, discuss, and make recommendations about transportation, land use, and related issues of bi-state significance.

Rex Burkholder

Commissioner Steve Stuart
Clark County

Commissioner Sam Adams
City of Portland
Councilor Mike Bennett
City of Gresham

Jeff Hamm, Executive Director

Larry Paulson, Executive Director
Port of Vancouver
Don Wagner, SW Administrator

Mayor Royce Pollard
City of Vancouver

Multnomah County

Dennis Osborn, Interim City Manager
City of Battle Ground 



Fred Hansen, General Manager

Bill Wyatt, Executive Director
Port of Portland 

Jason Tell, Region 1 Manager

Funding has been provided by:
City of Gresham
City of Portland
City of Vancouver
Clark County
Multnomah County
Washington State Department of Transportation