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30 ideas for the future

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K-12 is the key

Allyn Ford, President and CEO
Roseburg Forest Products

Ford leads one of the largest private lumber companies in the country, but as a member of the Oregon Board of Higher Education, his focus is on education. “There’s a lot of emphasis on higher education,” he says, “but K-12 is the basic structure for all our education. We’ve got to get on our feet and focus on the basics.” What’s been holding Oregon back is mediocrity, says Ford. “We have to get busy and start focusing on excellence.”

An educational hub

Larry Miller, President
Portland Trail Blazers

Miller, who left Nike to lead the Trail Blazers, the state’s top sports franchise, sees an advantage in Oregon’s ability to attract a creative workforce. Yet we have traditionally lacked a major top-tier academic institution in Oregon’s largest city. “I think the evolution of Portland State University could play a major role here,” Miller says. “And expanding the University of Oregon’s presence is beneficial, too. But growing the college and university dynamic is what will feed those jobs.”


Garbage power

Mark Edlen, CEO
Gerding Edlen Development

Gerding Edlen is the most successful green-building developer in the United States, having developed more LEED-rated square footage than any other company. Unsurprisingly, sustainability and energy frame Edlen’s future vision. “The holy grail I think for us is trash to energy,” he says. “Renewable energy is already a foregone conclusion. But the notion of taking garbage and converting it into energy at a city level will be the wave of the future.”

Perennial pioneering

Dan Wieden, Co-founder

Wieden sees value in Oregon’s trail-blazing identity. “In China they say now that every three years is a new generation,” he says. “Being that adaptable and nimble is probably the biggest challenge for this country and the Northwest.” Because Portland is still a relatively young city it’s still kind of trying to find itself. I love the fact that it’s more spontaneous here. If we see that as our major asset, the future should be quite bright.”


Info even faster

Charles A. Wilhoite, Managing director
Willamette Management Associates

Sitting on boards of the Portland Development Commission and OHSU, Wilhoite sees smarter bureaucracies sharing information efficiently and quickly. “Technology’s going to affect everything that goes on around the world,” he says. “I heard someone speak at a conference about having a medical chip on your person. You get injured in another city, they can access that. But the issue is privacy. There are always some risks.”




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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