Old questions return to leadership gathering

| Print |  Email
Articles - December 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
1210_ATS01When 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.”

1210_ATS02The 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.

1210_ATS03“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.”

JON BELL
 

More Articles

Behind the curtain: What students should know about accreditation and rankings

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, December 04, 2014
120414-edurating-thumbBY DEBRA RINGOLD | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How important are institutional and/or program evaluations provided by third parties in selecting a college or university program?


Read more...

MBA Perspective

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Robin Anderson, dean of the Pamplin School of Business, University of Portland: "You need people who are comfortable leading in ambiguity."


Read more...

Light Moves

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Fittingly, Light at Play — a business whose sole purpose is to create mesmerizing ambience — was conceived at Burning Man.


Read more...

Corner Office: Pam Edstrom

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seven tidbits of information from an agency partner and co-founder of Waggener Edstrom in Lake Oswego.


Read more...

Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation.


Read more...

Legislative Preview: A Shifting Balance

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY APRIL STREETER

Democratic gains pave the way for a revival of environment and labor bills as revenue reform languishes.


Read more...

Old school: Paulsen's Pharmacy maintains old fashion ethos

The Latest
Thursday, December 18, 2014
121914-pharmacy-thumbBY MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Under the radar — complete with a soda counter, the traditional Paulsen's Pharmacy looks to compete with big box retailers.


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