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30 ideas for the future

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Focus on the long view

Preston Pulliams, President
Portland Community College

“It’s critical that our Oregon businesses find the resources to achieve environmental sustainability — in their transportation policies, buildings and facilities, and even employee work and personal choices — in the next 30 years,” says Pulliams. He also looks for businesses to strategically focus on long-term returns instead of short-term gains and for Oregon businesses to engage those employees who deliver products and services. “This engagement will produce a more committed workforce and simultaneously strengthen employee morale and this in turn strengthens the bottom line. As the saying goes, ‘There is no ‘I’ in team.’”

Going global

William D. Thorndike Jr., President and CEO
Medford Fabrication

Thorndike predicts that businesses that we already do well in Oregon — like education and health — will enjoy continued success, while other sectors will remain involved in international trade by providing the elements that Oregon businesses can design and manufacture — like athletic wear and gear. But he cautions that successful Oregon companies will understand the need to be part of a bigger system. “This is part of a natural evolution,” Thorndike says. “For Oregon businesses to deal with the increasingly global economy we need to become part of that economy.”


A resources renaissance

Duncan Wyse, President
Oregon Business Council

In the past, Oregon’s natural resources, including forestry and agriculture, played a much larger role in fueling the economy than they do these days. But Wyse thinks a renaissance — not a return to old ways — is in the works. “In the last 20 years, we’ve really underplayed our resources,” he says, referring to everything from foods grown here to timber for specialty wood products and biomass energy. “We need to realize that these are renewable resources that can be managed sustainably to create economic value and sustain our quality of life.”

Working together

Sabrina Parsons, CEO
Palo Alto Software

The big picture for Parsons is that what’s good for the state of Oregon is good for its businesses, and that businesses can help find solutions for Oregon in turn. “There’s great potential for Oregon to become an entrepreneurial hotbed like Silicon Valley in California or Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, but in a way that makes sense for Oregon,” says Parsons, whose company, Palo Alto Software, is based in Eugene. “There’s a lot of potential for Oregon business if we plan it together and if business leaders are active and involved.”


Healthier banks

Malia Wasson, President
U.S. Bank

Wasson sees a future without nationwide financial meltdown. Citing the Dodd-Frank Act, America’s most sweeping financial overhaul since the 1930s, Wasson says: “Thirty years from now banks will be able to absorb significant shock, much more so than many were able to withstand in the recent crisis. Higher capital requirements, stronger underwriting standards and procedures, and transparent financial disclosures will be commonplace and will result in much healthier banks.” Wasson also favors financial education in public schools.



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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