Rockwood Rising Breaks Ground

On the scorching afternoon of June 12, over 200 people gathered at the Rockwood Rising Catalyst Site to celebrate the project’s groundbreaking. Attendees enjoyed snow cones from a Kona Hawaiian Ice cart, speeches from the project’s key leaders, and a special limited-time run of Rockwood hoodies and tee-shirts.

Gresham City Council, with GRDC Executive Director Josh Fuhrer and County Commissioner Lori Stegmann, complete the ceremonial “first dig” at the groundbreaking celebration.

Gresham City Council, with GRDC Executive Director Josh Fuhrer and County Commissioner Lori Stegmann, complete the ceremonial “first dig” at the groundbreaking celebration.

The event was much more than just a ceremony. It was a celebration of the painstaking work of Rockwood Rising’s staff and partners since the project’s inception in 2013, and indeed since the creation of the Urban Renewal Area in 2003. Executive Director Josh Fuhrer addressed the crowds, as did Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis, Developer Roy Kim, County Commissioner Lori Stegmann, and Senator Laurie Monnes-Anderson.

Executive Director Josh Fuhrer at the Catalyst Site. Nearly empty for almost 15 years, this site will now house an economic engine in the heart of Rockwood.

Executive Director Josh Fuhrer at the Catalyst Site. Nearly empty for almost 15 years, this site will now house an economic engine in the heart of Rockwood.

Speakers focused on their hopes for the future of the neighborhood, and on the ways Rockwood Rising will contribute to excellent quality of life for Rockwood’s younger generations. Executive Director Josh Fuhrer noted, “This project represents a real milestone for this community that is resilient, that is creative, and that is steadfast in its commitment to this project and to its future.”

“I grew up here. I’ve owned a business here for over 25 years,” Commissioner Stegmann added, “and like many of you, I have put my heart and soul into making this a place that children and families can put down roots.”

View all keynote speeches from the groundbreaking celebration here.

Small businesses that work hard and know how to give back: that is the core of how you create a community that is enriching, meaningful to us, and…something we can give back to our children so that they can go off and thrive. That is the community that this will be, and that is the ultimate community that we can all create”

—Roy Kim, RKm Development


After keynote speeches and the ceremonial “dig,” which saw members of both the Gresham Redevelopment Commission and development partners at RKm turn over the first shovels of dirt, attendees gathered in the Rockwood Community Office to enjoy air conditioning, local refreshments provided by Don Pedro and Sugar Cubed, and the great work of countless community members and organizations.

Rockwood Rising groundbreaking 003.jpg

Guests were also able to pick up some Rockwood “swag” in the form of tee-shirts and hoodies, designed from community comments by our friends at Grafletics, Inc. June 12th also launched a 30-day fundraiser wherein each tee-shirt sold would generate one free Rockwood tee for a child at the Rockwood Boys and Girls club. In all, over 130 shirts were purchased through the fundraiser, meaning 130 new, donated shirts for Rockwood kids.

Rockwood Rising celebration_Robyn Stowers.jpg

To learn more about this day of celebration, read the article published in the Gresham Outlook!

Groundbreaking is just the beginning. Make sure to visit the Updates page, and follow the City of Gresham on Facebook and Instagram to hear about all the upcoming ways to celebrate the project.

The Rockwood Rising project is a public-private partnership designed to build an economic engine in the heart of our neighborhood. For more information email us at rockwoodrising@greshamoregon.gov or call 503-618-3208.