Sponsored by Oregon Business

Rural counties depend on landfill business

| Print |  Email
Articles - February 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Leaders in counties with landfills, where waste is often one of the largest single sources of revenue, say the increasingly massive waste management companies negotiate in good faith. But the real source of a county’s leverage is the ability to pull the land-use permit and kick the landfill out. And without a way of replacing the economic activity generated by the landfill or the steady waste revenues they’ve come to count on, counties are much less likely to do that today.

Oregon’s waste economy employs about 5,200 people, according to the state Employment Department, and generates revenues of about $944 million a year according to the national trade publication Waste Business Journal. Those figures include collections and recycling, but landfills are the hubs of the waste industry. Americans, even in the Pacific Northwest, still throw away more than they recycle.

Jordan Anderson, of the family-owned Industrial Tire Service franchise in Arlington, checks and maintains tires on the trucks that carry waste to the landfill.

Most of the waste that was buried in Oregon last year ended up in one of the state’s seven regional, privately owned landfills. Regional landfills became the norm after stricter EPA regulations in the late 1980s made it too costly for municipalities to maintain smaller landfills. Six of Oregon’s regional landfills are in small or rural counties; three of those ended up in remote eastern counties, where residents welcomed landfills, prisons, anything that promised jobs. “Until renewable energy came along, waste was about the only kind of diversification that was possible. It’s so difficult, because of low population and distances, to attract any kind of industry,” says Mike McArthur, director of the Association of Oregon Counties and former judge of Sherman County, next to Gilliam. “I used to joke that we’d take anything but a nuclear waste dump.”

The landfill itself is out of sight from Arlington’s downtown, but Waste Management employees eat lunch at the Village Inn and buy supplies at the Ace Hardware. The company orders physicals from the Arlington Medical Clinic, necessitates the existence of a family- owned Industrial Tire Service franchise (employees: 3.5) and puts up a stream of contractors at the local motel, which at 34 rooms seems larger than necessary for a town with only one gas station.

Gilliam County attracts a lot of wind energy projects, but those haven’t brought many local jobs. Waste has been the county’s most successful economic development achievement. Yes, Gilliam County has been the butt of a few editorial cartoons. But its unemployment rate is consistently one of the lowest: 6.6% in November, when the statewide rate was 11.1%. “It brought jobs immediately,” Laura Pryor says.


More Articles

Back in Black

Guest Blog
Friday, November 20, 2015

It’s been a volatile year in equities and heading into the holiday season, it doesn’t look like these market extremes will dissipate.


100 Best Nonprofits: Working for equality inside and out

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Striving for social equity is the mission of many nonprofits, and this year’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon survey shows employees are most satisfied with their organizations’ fair treatment of differing racial, gender, disability, age and economic groups. But as a national discourse about racial discrimination and equity for low-income groups takes center stage, data show Oregon’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For still need to make progress on addressing these issues within their own organizations.


The Harder They Fall

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Storyteller-in-Chief by the managing partner of Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt.


OEN takes Portlandia route in new video

The Latest
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 3.27.58 PMBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Several Portland entrepreneurs make appearance in patently silly "The Dream of the Startup is Alive in Oregon" promo.


Meet Me at the Crossroads, ESPN

The Latest
Friday, October 30, 2015

Worldwide Leader in Sports struggles to cope with new media landscape, forcing us to adjust our behavior as consumers.


Video: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon 2015

The Latest
Monday, October 05, 2015
100-best-NP-logo-2015-video-thumbVIDEO BY JESSE LARSON

Profiling some of the organizations featured in the 2015 list.


The cover story

Linda Baker
Thursday, November 12, 2015

I walked off the Vigor Industrial shipyard that day with a clear cover line in mind: the Love Boat.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02