Washington County Event & Conference Center under construction

After many years of preparation and planning, Washington County's vision for a local event center is unfolding, with strong support from the City of Hillsboro and other community partners. The new Wingspan Event and Conference Center (WECC) will serve as the centerpiece of a revitalized Fair Complex and accommodate a wide range of activities. While continuing to support and enhance the annual Washington County Fair, WECC will provide year-round opportunities for large community events as well as national and regional conferences.

The Center will feature a 39,000 sq. ft. exposition hall with 30’ ceilings, a rooftop solar array, a 13,000 sq. ft. conference center, a full commercial kitchen, concessions and offices. The spacious interior will be complemented by a large entry plaza adjacent to the lobby and an outdoor exhibit area on the west, opening into the interior grounds of the Fair Complex. The new venue will offer various room configurations sized to accommodate trade shows, corporate meetings and seminars, banquets and receptions, fundraisers, festivals and sporting events, as well as local community gatherings.


Planning for Success

The Wingspan Event and Conference Center represents a new business line for Washington County and requires the careful integration of strategic planning, market research and data-driven operational adjustments. The Business Plan calls for an approach centered on customer service and efficient business transactions. It features key information including financial forecasting, marketing strategy and pricing.

Timeline

Following the official groundbreaking ceremony in September, 2018, the capital project team representing Washington County Facilities and Parks Services, LRS Architects and Swinerton Builders, meets regularly and maintains constant communication to manage this challenging construction project. These efforts have kept the project on time and on budget throughout the process. The estimated completion date is in the spring of 2020. The 2020 Washington County Fair, July 24 through August 2, will be the first public event held in the WECC.

Follow construction progress through time-lapse photo images captured every 10 minutes.
 

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Funding Strategy

Through leadership provided by the Board of Commissioners and the City of Hillsboro, along with input from numerous community stakeholders, a strategy has been developed to fund this community need without raising taxes. Major funding for the Washington County Event Center will come from the County's Gain Share and Transient Lodging Tax (TLT) revenue, along with an $8 million contribution by the City of Hillsboro (also through TLT) and $1 million from the Washington County Visitors Association (WCVA). The total budget is estimated at $52 million.

Financial and Contract Documents


Historical Roots

The evolving story of the Washington County Fair Complex is intertwined with the long, rich history of early pioneers who settled in the Tualatin Valley, raised their families, crops and livestock, and held the first ever Washington County Fair in October of 1854. Today, high-tech and world-wide manufacturing companies have become a part of Washington County's rich economic and culturally diverse landscape. These changes have contributed to the community spirit of that very first fair and the desire to celebrate and showcase a close connection to the land.

Over the generations, forward-thinking leaders purchased and developed a series of parcels of public land that would each serve as the County fairgrounds for a time. Eventually, the community would outgrow one site and move to another more suitable location that could accommodate a growing and changing population. From the site of the first fair in what is now Forest Grove, to a tract of land near Hillsboro's Shute Park, to its current location along NE 34th Avenue and Cornell Road, the Washington County Fair has evolved into one of the most popular and highly respected fairs in the region. 


Fair Complex Master Plan

In an effort to ensure long-term stability of the County Fair, as well as the ability of the Fair Complex to meet the needs of the wider community well into the future, the Board of County Commissioners initiated a strategic planning process in 2007. This effort led to the creation of a "Fairgrounds Master Plan" by a 15-member Fairgrounds Revitalization Task Force, representing a broad range of interests. Their work also included a comprehensive report which detailed their findings and recommendations to the Board. Ten years later, Washington County is now on the threshold of reaching one of the major milestones of the Master Plan. 

Although best understood as conceptual, the Master Plan is the foundational document for revitalization and enhancement of the Fair Complex. Its flexibility has allowed for review and refinement over the years, reflecting changes related to new opportunities, potential funding sources and cost increases. 

In the summer of 2019, a comprehensive Master Plan Update was completed. It emphasizes multi-use improvements  to benefit county residents and visitors year-round, while maintaining the long-term success of the County Fair and other current uses. Its development was guided by the Fairgrounds Advisory Committee (FAC) and benefited from robust community and stakeholder involvement.