Incorporated in 1865 and originally known as Brownsville, La Grande is now the regional hub of commerce and education. With a population of about 13,000, La Grande is the Union County seat and the largest city in the region. La Grande is the home to Eastern Oregon University, which adds an amazing depth of cultural, athletic and diversity amenities to the community. Those who have relocated to La Grande find intriguing and exciting the mix of a laid-back place with no congestion and short commutes and the "big city" offerings of dance, theatre, sporting events, and live music presented by the university.
The city is the regional operations center for many state and federal agencies as well as Union Pacific Railroad. The original Oregon Trail runs right through La Grande, as does the Grande Ronde River and Interstate 84. La Grande is also the "jump-off" point for historic Joseph, popular Wallowa Lake and the breathtaking Eagle Cap Wilderness area.
La Grande has partnered with the Union County Economic Development Corp. to offer the La Grande Business & Technology Park, a 78-acre master-planned site for light industry and other job-producing firms. Combined with an Enterprise Zone and an Urban Renewal District, industrial development is welcomed in La Grande, and many sites are "shovel-ready" for quick turn-around. Solid incentives, ready-to-go inexpensive land, business-friendly local government, and excellent access to rail and Interstate make La Grande an smart choice for small- to medium-sized light industry and technology businesses looking for an alternative to larger cities.
La Grande's downtown is rich with history and economic opportunity for small businesses. In 2008, La Grande was one of eleven communities selected to participate in the newly revised Oregon Main Street program. Combined with the city's Building Façade Grant Program, downtown La Grande is seeing a revitalization effort like none other. Downtown La Grande, already a wonderful place to shop, live and play, is a handsome old friend undergoing an extreme makeover.