Giving rural Oregon a boost

| Print |  Email
Opinion
Thursday, September 19, 2013

 

BY TIM MCCABE | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

09.19.13 Blog RuralOregonThere are indeed real differences in both the challenges and opportunities faced by rural and urban regions of Oregon. Rural areas of the state have not seen the economic recovery that urban regions are experiencing. A critical function of Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency, is to use the tools, resources and expertise available to us to facilitate job growth in both rural and urban Oregon.

While commerce is certainly concentrated in urban areas, it is rural Oregon that has the urgent need. So I am proud that while 25% of the state’s population resides in rural Oregon, approximately half or our work is happening in partnership with rural companies.

Since 2007, looking at our finance programs, 54% of the loan and loan guarantee funds were used for rural Oregon projects. Our work with community banks to make more capital available to rural businesses was particularly critical during the recession.

In addition, the flexible Strategic Reserve Fund, which is often used to provide forgivable loans tied to job retention and creation, actually has the same distribution with 54% of SRF projects happening in rural Oregon over the same period. This program is often employed when a project has a unique need with no other resource available to fit that need. For instance, SRF was used to help Shimadzu Manufacturing expand its Canby facility creating 50 new jobs instead of expanding in Asia. But it was also utilized to help a small oyster larvae operation - Whiskey Creek Oysters - solve a pH water problem that threatened the entire oyster farming industry along Oregon’s Pacific coast.

On another important front, Business Oregon’s export assistance has helped 120 Oregon small businesses from all over the state find overseas customers for their products. These trade show appearances, aided by small $3,000 to $5,000 grants, is helping these companies realize $28 million in new revenue from a $483,000 state investment in matching grants since 2012.

Taking a step back and looking at Oregon’s overall economic development strategy: it’s the role of state government at the top level to deliver core services that increase economic opportunities for all Oregonians: such as health care, education and infrastructure development.

At the next level, we drive economic growth in specific key industries. Currently, Business Oregon focuses on advanced manufacturing, outdoor gear and active wear, clean technology, forestry and wood products and high technology. Our approach allows us to engage with partners in both urban and rural areas to try to grow these industries in which Oregon holds global competitive advantages.

We work on regional initiatives employing innovation strategies, often through the Oregon Innovation Council, to develop a robust food processing cluster in southern Oregon or an advanced manufacturing hub in the Columbia Gorge. We employ our expertise regarding entrepreneurial initiative or workforce development or our ability to certify lands for industrial development to spur job growth statewide.

Then at ground level, Business Oregon’s team of business development and finance experts work directly with Oregon companies, most of them with fewer than 50 employees, to help match their business needs with the resources at our disposal: access to capital, export assistance, tax incentives, business consulting and innovative solutions. Our people can serve as a single contact for a broad range of business services, for both programs we administer, as well as those existing elsewhere with our partners. We can make those connections and identify solutions.

In addition, we also “answer the door” when companies come knocking to look at expansion in Oregon. We pro-actively pitch the state in a targeted way both throughout the U.S. and overseas. We promote trade relationships in foreign countries, and look for opportunities for collaboration.

Our mission is clear and pronounced: help as many Oregon companies as is possible, both rural and urban, to create and retain as many jobs as they can for Oregonians.

Tim McCabe is the Director of Business Oregon.

 

More Articles

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...

Aim High

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

We get the education we deserve.


Read more...

Brain Storm

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CAMILLE GRIGSBY-ROCCA

Can the brave new world of neurotechnology help an OHSU surgeon find a cure for obesity?


Read more...

Big Trouble in China?

Guest Blog
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
0818-wellmanthumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

Earlier this month, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) announced they were going to devalue their currency, the Renminbi. While the amount of the targeted change was to be roughly 2 percent, investors read a lot more into the move. The Renminbi had been gradually appreciating against the U.S. dollar (see chart) as to attempt to alleviate concerns of being labeled a currency manipulator.


Read more...

Reader Input: Fair Play

May 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Former Governor John Kitzhaber's resignation in February prompted some soul searching in this state about ethical behavior in industry and government.


Read more...

Best Foot Forward

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

Whether you're stepping out to work or onto the track, Pacific Northwest shoe companies have you covered.


Read more...

Child care challenge

September 2015
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
0927OHSUhealthystarts-thumbBY KIM MOORE AND LINDA BAKER

Child care in Oregon is expensive and hard to find. We delved into the numbers and talked to a few executives and managers about day care costs, accessibility and work-life balance.


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