Q&A with Jeff Merkley on business

| Print |  Email
Archives - December 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008

JeffMerkleyTHE SENATOR’S BUSINESS

PORTLAND Shortly after he defeated Republican Gordon Smith in early November, U.S. Senator-elect Jeff Merkley caught his breath just long enough to talk briefly about how he would address the challenges facing Oregon businesses. The upset by Merkley, the former Democratic speaker of the state house, was the first time in 40 years that an incumbent Oregon senator has been unseated.

Q What have you heard from the business community about its biggest issues?
A While I was running, what I heard from the business community was that they didn’t think I could win. I don’t fault them for it. It is always David vs. Goliath when you take on a sitting senator. I didn’t get their support against an incumbent, but I’ll certainly be responding to their issues. I look forward to a full partnership.

Q The economy has tanked and everyone is hurting. What do you do first to help Oregon’s economy and businesses?
A We have to fuel the economy by creating living-wage jobs. We do that on two fronts: investing in infrastructure and in green energy. We cannot build a strong economic future if we are depending on foreign oil. The first press conference I went to [after being elected] was on infrastructure. This is just absolutely critical and needs to be funded. There is a long list of infrastructure projects [in Oregon] ready to go.

Q What are the biggest business issues in the state?
A The soaring cost of health care is a huge issue. When President Clinton came into office there wasn’t much consensus about fixing the health-care system. But I’m hearing from large and small employers that the system doesn’t work. There is now common ground to address this issue. [To combat low wages] we need to have strong universities to attract the knowledge economy and the higher-paying jobs. That is essential. We want strong employers to be attracted to Oregon. We need to expand and grow many of our business clusters. Our biggest opportunities are that we don’t have as much exposure to the housing collapse [as some areas.] And we have extraordinary potential in alternative energy.

Q Has the president-elect called to congratulate you?
A No. He may be a little occupied right now.

ROBIN DOUSSARD


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

More Articles

Quake as metaphor

Linda Baker
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
071515-earthquakia-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Big One serves as an allegory for Portland, a city that earns plaudits for lifestyle and amenities but whose infrastructure is, literally, crumbling.


Read more...

Bendafornia: What’s driving the Northern California migration?

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
bendiforniathumbBY KEN MAES

A huge migration from Northern California has contributed to average 16% growth per year since 1990.


Read more...

Is there life beyond Reed?

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY GARY THILL | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A storied institution climbs down from the ivory tower.


Read more...

10 Innovators in Rural Health

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Telemedicine, new partnerships and real estate diversification make health care more accessible in rural Oregon.


Read more...

Reader Input: Road Work

March 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oregon's roads are crumbling, and revenues from state and local gas taxes are not sufficient to pay for improvements. We asked readers if the private sector should help fund transportation maintenance and repairs. Research partner CFM Strategic Communications conducted the poll of 366 readers in February.


Read more...

Aim High

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

We get the education we deserve.


Read more...

Ranking the airlines that fly PDX

The Latest
Friday, August 14, 2015
airlinesthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

17 airlines make stops at Portland International Airport, but not all are created equal when it comes to customer service.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS