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Editor's Notes: Leadership summit cancelled

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Robin Doussard
Friday, November 13, 2009
The annual business summit that brings together hundreds of the state’s business, political and civic leadership has been cancelled this year after seven consecutive summits. “We have decided to take a year off,” said the Oregon Business Plan's steering committee in an announcement Nov. 13.

“In these difficult and uncertain economic times, we want to 1) continue to promote implementation of the work already proposed in the Business Plan and 2) take a fresh look at the plan and its initiatives to bring to the Leadership Summit in December 2010," the committee said.

That summit would come after the general election, where the state will elect a new governor. The state’s business community has made no secret about how unhappy it is over Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s signing into law this past Legislative session tax increases on businesses and the incomes of wealthy Oregonians. Businesses led the drive to bring the measures to a vote in a Jan. 26, 2010, special election.

Last year’s summit tackled issues such as the corporate kicker. But any such collaborative discussion on tax or other issues this year seems unlikely until the tax measures are settled in January, and a new governor is elected next November.

In the next year, the group said it plans a series of regional meetings, work on initiative developments and hosting and co-hosting forums with candidates for Congress, governor and the Oregon legislature.

“We know that the Summits are popular events,” the committee said. “They provide the opportunity to learn about the Plan and to connect with peers. But it is very hard at a large one-day event to deeply hear about what you think is most important for strengthening the state’s economy. The plan presented at the first Summit in 2002 was the result of a year of industry focus groups, regional meetings and intense listening sessions. Going back to these roots, over the remainder of this year and next, we will focus on engaging with industry clusters, regional business and public leaders, policy experts, and candidates for office to prepare a newly refreshed plan ready for the December 2010 Summit.”

Was cancelling the summit the right thing to do? I'd like to hear what you think.

Robin Doussard is Editor of Oregon Business.

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