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

Greenpeace (temporarily) prevents Shell oil ship from leaving Portland

The Latest
Thursday, July 30, 2015
hangersBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Greenpeace activists suspended themselves from the St. John's Bridge in an attempt to prevent a ship from heading to the Arctic.


Read more...

Photo log: Murray's Pharmacy

The Latest
Friday, July 17, 2015
OBM-Heppner-Kaplan thumbBY JASON KAPLAN

Photographer Jason Kaplan takes a look at Murray's Pharmacy in Heppner.  The family owned business is run by John and Ann Murray, who were featured in our July/August cover story: 10 Innovators in Rural Health Care.


Read more...

Storyteller in Chief: Power Player

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY LINDA WESTON

In 1996, after a 17-year career in the destination marketing industry, where I gained national standing as the CEO of the Convention & Visitors Association of Lane County, I was recruited by the founders of a new professional basketball league for women. The American Basketball League (ABL) hoped to leverage the success of the 1996 USA women’s national team at the Atlanta Olympics — much like USA Soccer is now leveraging the U.S. Women’s National Team’s victory in the World Cup. The ABL wanted a team in Portland, and they wanted me to be its general manager.


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...

Farm in a Box

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Most of the food Americans consume is trucked in from hundreds of miles away. Eric Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Gro-volution, wants to change that. So this past spring, the Air Force veteran and former greenhouse manager started work on an alternative farming system he claims is more efficient than conventional agriculture, and also shortens the distance between the consumer and the farm.


Read more...

The 10 most successful crowdfunding campaigns in Oregon

The Latest
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
081915-crowdfundingmainBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

One of the hottest new investment trends has proven quite lucrative for some companies.


Read more...

Store Bought

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Market of Choice is on a tear. In 2012 the 35-year-old Eugene-based grocery chain opened a central kitchen/distribution center in its hometown. The market opened a third Portland store in the Cedar Mill neighborhood this year; a Bend outpost broke ground in March. A fourth Portland location is slated for the inner southeast “LOCA” development, a mixed-use project featuring condos and retail. Revenues in 2014 were $175 million, a double-digit increase over 2013. CEO Rick Wright discusses growth, market trends and how he keeps new “foodie” grocery clerks happy.


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