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30 ideas for the future

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“Semper Gumby”

Wayne Drinkward, President and CEO
Hoffman Construction

As president of the largest general contractor in the Pacific Northwest, Wayne Drinkward is always ready for anything, including the dramatic shift in business models that he predicts. The tongue-in-cheek company motto is “Semper Gumby” (Always Flexible), so Hoffman will likely be prepared if indeed Oregon comes to emulate Europe with bigger, more specialized and more regulated companies. “People who can work within that environment are going to be OK.”


The innovation solution

Tim McCabe, Director
Business Oregon

McCabe is particularly enthusiastic about the results of his department’s Oregon Innovation Council. He cites the successes and the significant financial return of the three research centers (ONAMI, BEST, OTRADI) established and funded by the council, which in turn have resulted in new industries. “For every dollar we’ve invested as a state we’ve generated $7 in additional funds to continue this research,” he says. “So I think the key to our economy is innovation.”

The capital key

Linda Weston, President and executive director
Oregon Entrepreneurs Network

“There’s no lack of innovation in our state and the glass is always half full for me — in some cases it’s really full,” says Weston. She cites more angel investment from private individuals now than has been the case in Oregon, and more venture investment. “What I hope to see in the next 30 years is that emerging companies get even more access to all kinds of capital. I hope that Oregon is going to become headquarters to more than a dozen homegrown — with an emphasis on the homegrown — Fortune 500 companies.”


The energy shift

Gordon Brinser, President of operations
SolarWorld Industries America

“Energy is going to drive the next 30 years,” says Brinser. “We will have to come to grips with where we’re going to get our energy, its impact on our climate and ultimately the way we live.” He sees Oregon at the forefront of the shift in terms of innovations in conservation and renewables, but thinks that Oregon must quickly position itself to lead  this transition. “Everything will come down to how we manage the shift — transmission, transportation, the smart grid, conservation and renewables — as we go forward.”

Local control

Jay Clemens, President and CEO
Associated Oregon Industries

Clemens heads Oregon’s largest business organization, whose members range from small businesses to global corporations. But the state as a whole will prosper if Oregonians “take our eyes off uncertainties of the global marketplace and put our energy into the things we can control,” he says. Those things include educating, training and attracting the best and the brightest to our state.





Brenda Ray Scott, CFRE
0 #1 Brenda Ray Scott, CFRE 2010-12-23 11:39:04
This article offers valuable perspectives on the changes needed to make the next thirty years Oregon's best. While it seemed that there was a consensus around the economic, public education system, and revenue system challenges faced by our state, there didn't seem to be consensus about the solutions. The nonprofit sector has been added into this discussion because it bridges the commercial i.e., for profit and government sectors. Let's frame these issues in the larger context:

Tax structure: Until we reform what we tax and how we collect those taxes, we'll continue to ride the revenue roller coaster. Sales tax, anyone?

Education system: Funding problems are only a portion of the story of a system where the performance doesn't exceed expectations. Could we consolidate smaller school districts into larger? Could we quit giving inordinate amounts of resources to schools especially in Portland Public Schools that continue to struggle? What can we do creatively to keep the focus on a impactful classroom experience.

Nonprofit organizations: These organizations play a significant role in our state economy. According to the Nonprofit Association of Oregon (NAO) (of which I am an affiliate), "There are over 22,000 registered nonprofits in Oregon. Together they employ over 160,000—roughly 12% of all Oregonians working in the private sector." That number doesn't necessarily reflect other grassroots organizations that aren't formally registered or faith-based groups. These organizations do everything from providing shelter to the homeless to delivering meals-on-wheels to staging that world premiere adaptation of a Shakespeare play. Of course paid staff numbers don't reflect the thousands of volunteers who work with paid staff to provide vital services every day. Nonprofit organizations in all cases receive charitable contributions from all sectors of the economy. Some of these same organizations receive fee for service funding from government to provide vital services. These organizations especially suffer when the economy is not growing: a greater request for services and less resources offered to provide them.

Manufacturing: All of that creative class and "creatives" stuff is great for some. Until we bring manufacturing jobs back to Oregon i.e., things that we export, we will continue to struggle.

With the New Year comes the opportunity to shape Oregon's future and remake our economic landscape.
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