Mount Hood's unique economy

Mount Hood's unique economy

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Sun and rich volcanic soils help Hood River's orchards thrive.
Hundreds of small businesses, from the Wy’east Book Shoppe & Art Gallery in Welches to McIsaac’s Store in Parkdale, tend to the needs of visitors and locals alike. At its seasonal peak, the fruit growing and packing industry in the Hood River Valley employs 3,000 people and harvests crops worth more than $84 million. And though the surrounding forest’s timber output has plunged over the past two decades, some logs do still come from Mount Hood, as do other natural resources, including billions of gallons of water, biomass materials and, potentially, geothermal energy.

“The mountain itself is a big unifying factor in the economy of the region,” says Mary McArthur, executive director of the Mt. Hood Economic Alliance, an economic development partnership that provides small-business loans in Clackamas, Hood River and Wasco counties. “It’s always been a central focus.”

Like any economy, the mountain- and forest-based one around Hood has climbed and slid over the decades. Geographical singularities, seasonal swings and the endless number of people who interact with it every day keep the mountain economy moving. But those same factors can hinder it as well, and as more and more people come to Oregon in the near future and tap into the bounty of the mountain, Mount Hood and its related economy will be faced with a daunting mix of challenge and prosperity.