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30 ideas for the future

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Opportunity knocks

Wally Van Valkenburg, Managing partner
Stoel Rives

“I think it’s part of the DNA of Oregonians,” says Van Valkenburg, a member of the Oregon Innovation Council. “Maybe it comes out of the pioneer experience where you had to work together to survive. But even compared to Seattle, there’s more collaboration here.” An essential component, he believes, is the social and economic opportunity. “We have very little aristocracy compared to the East Coast,” he says. “People who have talent and ambition don’t have the same barriers.”


Back to the forest

Mike Rondeau, CEO
Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe

Rondeau, who overseas the tribe’s growing covey of business operations, looks toward the forests for the future. “I do believe we can make forest restoration into an income generator for the state and something that will draw people here to our area and create employment.” The other influx he expects? Asian-American and even international tourists from around the Pacific. Overseas tourists are next. “As soon as we can show the world what the state and Southern Oregon have to offer, they’ll be here.”

The green edge

Bryan DeBoer, President and COO
Lithia Motors

Oregon doesn’t have the population or economic base that California does, and it may be easier for DeBoer to run his family’s car dealership business in other states, but Oregon’s got the edge in something else: sustainability. Cast aside the budget shortfalls and the high capital gains and income taxes, and it may just be Oregon’s commitment to sustainability and green technology that bolsters its business climate over the next 30 years. “Oregon’s right where it needs to be,” DeBoer says. “It’s costly to be there right now, but maybe someday sustainability will be what draws people here for business.”


Creative corridor

John Jay, Global executive creative director

Jay sees the future turning on Portland’s ability to nurture creative ventures as part of an ecosystem. The foundations of this “Creative Corridor” are already visible in the Pearl District, with firms like Wieden+Kennedy and Ziba, the Pacific Northwest College of Art and the Craft Museum, and Old Town’s eclectic creative mix of artists, shops, and architecture and design firms. “It’s a loosely held group of friends today,” Jay says. “But in the future, the potential of the Creative Corridor, if curated, connected and supported by the right leadership and vision, could make it one of the most influential creative neighborhoods in the world, with the potential sharing of information through existing networks around the globe. Thinking and dreaming big used to suffer from the ‘tall poppies’ syndrome in this city. Moving forward: It is the cost of entry.”

Keeping the juice

Sohrab Vossoughi, President and chief creative director

Even if state institutions continue to suffer and erode the quality of life here, Vossoughi says it will be hard to drain Portland of its creative juices. “The reason Portland is unique is that its DNA, reflected in the values, behaviors and attitudes of people who choose to live here and make up its culture, is in line with the things that creative people like: independent thinking, a craft mentality, a love of experimentation and collaboration, and a balance between urban and wild. I believe Portland will continue to capture entrepreneurs and creatives for at least another generation.”





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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