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30 ideas for the future

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Seizing market leadership

Dave Chen, Chair
Oregon Innovation Council

Oregon has long been a leader in eco-friendly ideas but is still figuring out how to export them for large financial gain. Chen, a principal at Equilibrium Capital Group, still believes the opportunity is ripe. But we’ll have to somehow match our love of startups with a new affinity for growing large, foundational companies like Intel or Iberdrola, which, it should be noted, were founded elsewhere. “Our biggest challenge,” he says, “is that Oregon likes to be a pioneer but it shies away from being a market leader. We like to be first but we are very uncomfortable with making it pay. To do that, everyone from industry leaders to elected officials needs to recognize the economic engine that results from market leadership, and then be willing to lead us there.”

Be the decider

Ryan Deckert, President
Oregon Business Association

Deckert, the former state senator who has led the OBA since fall 2007, likes what he sees in Oregon’s ability to make timely decisions that reap future benefits. A good example, he says, is alternative energy. “It’s not by coincidence that more solar manufacturing and wind development is occurring in Oregon than in any other state in the nation,” he says, noting that good and prompt decisions also helped put advanced manufacturing and footwear in the lead.


Come together, right now

Mark Ganz, President and CEO
Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon

It’s always big news when a headquarters company leaves Oregon. But so far, the $10 billion not-for-profit Regence BlueCross and BlueShield of Oregon has stayed. To keep Regence and others here over the next 30 years, Ganz says public entities and private industry need to work together — as they have through Greenlight Greater Portland, which Ganz chairs — stop throwing Band-Aids at Oregon’s social ills and focus on creating the jobs people need to live their lives. “We have a huge opportunity and need to unify our efforts,” he says. “If we don’t, I think we’ll be disappointed 30 years out.”

Strengthened links

Greg Ness, President and CEO
The Standard

Heading a century-old Portland company, Greg Ness is looking forward to a prosperous Oregon economy, with the state’s coffers full, thanks to the success of Oregon companies in the marketplace. “It’s achievable, but will require re-establishing the connection between the prosperity of Oregon’s private sector and the prosperity of our communities and state.”


An agriculture revolution

Susan Sokol Blosser, Founder
Sokol Blosser Winery

“I predict a revitalization of agriculture, which is already happening,” says Sokol Blosser, who has noticed that agriculture is becoming more localized, and that younger people are going into farming, using sustainable or organic practices. “People are going to farmers’ markets, restaurants are buying from farmers, and schools will be buying directly from local farmers soon too.” She predicts ancillary businesses growing up around sustainable agriculture: agri-tourism, bike tours, bird watching, and family recreation. “Small-scale, profitable agriculture with no middleman builds a sense of community. With more sustainable agriculture on the horizon, we’ve got a win, win, win for 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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