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|Articles - December 2010|
|Wednesday, November 17, 2010|
When it staged its first leadership summit in 2002, the Oregon Business Council faced an incoming governor, high unemployment, a sluggish economy and a state budget shortfall of nearly $2 billion.
Eight years later, with OBC gearing up for its seventh annual summit on Dec. 13, the setting feels familiar. A new (sort of) governor is on his way into office, the state’s unemployment rate that hit 7% in 2002 is now above 10%, and the coming biennium has a projected $3.2 billion shortfall.
“This summit feels to me a lot like the first one,” says Duncan Wyse, president of OBC. “We have a new governor and we are still, as we were then, in a very deep hole that we’ve got to find our way out of.”
The summit, held at the Oregon Convention Center, caps off a months-long tour that OBC made around the state for a series of 13 regional meetings. Held in places like Astoria, Baker City, Pendleton and Medford, the meetings brought together business leaders to talk about their regional concerns as well as how the summit and the accompanying Oregon Business Plan might tackle the tough issues facing the entire state.
“I think it was really important that they came out and got the rural perspective,” says Mike Nelson, a realtor in Baker City and vice chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission. “We wanted to let folks over on the west side know how important their economy is to us — and how important ours is to them.”
Like Oregon’s latest recession and high unemployment, some of the big issues facing the state now are the same from eight years ago: underfunding of higher ed, a volatile state funding system, low revenues, and high income and capital gains taxes. And, like the 2002 summit, this year’s version has a framework in place for addressing some of the challenges. Broadly, it includes job creation strategies, restructuring and reallocating the state budget, lowering some taxes, and possibly raising or redesigning some select others.
“The solution to what we’re currently facing is not one that pits the business community against the providers of public services,” says Pat Reiten, chair of the Oregon Business Plan steering committee and president of Pacific Power.
The summit will also address Oregon’s clusters — high tech, natural resources, manufacturing and others — and key areas like health care, transportation and sustainability. The summit and the plan will also retain their primary focus on the traded sector, which Wyse notes is responsible for driving the Oregon economy. Craig Smith, executive director of the Eugene nonprofit Rural Development Initiatives, however, thinks that there should be more room in the plan for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
“That’s what we believe is the backbone of Oregon,” says Smith. “Most jobs created are by small and new businesses.’’
A year ago, summit organizers pulled the plug on the 2009 event in part because of the two tax measures passed by voters — and pushed for by Gov. Ted Kulongoski and other state leaders — and a palpable rift between business and government. Reiten says it was unfortunate, but the right decision. The downtime gave OBC the chance to reflect and regroup.
“The business plan won’t be successful unless we have a unified front in attempting to implement its provisions,” he says. “And it’s not one and done at the summit. We’ll be pressing through the upcoming legislative session and beyond.”
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY ANNIE ELLISON
Portland tech veteran Ben Berry is leaving his post as Portland’s chief technology officer for a full-time role producing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) aimed at first responders and the military. Berry’s AirShip Technologies Group is poised to be on the ground floor of an industry that will supply drones to as many as 100,000 police, fire and emergency agencies nationwide. He reveals the plan for takeoff.
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN
Astrid Scholz scales up sustainability.
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY EMILY LIEDEL
Inside the topsy-turvy world of corporate sustainability rankings.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
There are more than 160 farmers markets in Oregon, contributing an estimated $50 million in sales, according to the Oregon Farmers Markets Association. We checked in on the Forest Grove market, which for several years has brought local produce and food vendors to Main Street in the center of town.
Friday, May 08, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
Hagfish may not have evolved much over the last 300 million years, but their protein-heavy slime promises advances in super-materials.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
An international architecture firm known for its design of the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion in New York unveiled its plan this week for a modern indoor/outdoor food market at the foot of the Morrison Bridge in downtown Portland.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR
An earthquake would completely destroy many Oregon businesses, highlighting the urgent need for the private and public sectors to collaborate on shoring up disaster preparedness, said panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast summit today.
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