Its all in process: Jobs and prosperity are coming to Lane County. And it’s all about processing!
Hard hit by a long and deep double recession, Lane County is still reeling from the loss of jobs, timber harvest and the accompanying lack of dollars to pay for needed services. For the County, public safety in particular has been hard hit, shutting down sections of the jail and reducing rural Sheriff patrol to less than a skeleton of what is needed.
At the Lane County Economic Prosperity Summit meeting, assembled by the Eugene Chamber of Commerce and Lane County’s Economic Development team on November 14, participants heard from Oregon Community Foundation President and CEO Max Williams and three panels of employers that things are looking brighter. That we can expect more job growth and prosperity if we read the signs and work together to foster such.
Max Williams, my colleague from the Oregon Legislature (and former Oregon Department of Corrections chief) spoke about investments by his foundation in entrepreneurial companies throughout Oregon. Investments that are leveraging private support from Ontario to Tillamook and from Gold Beach to Pendleton, creating new jobs in new previously untapped technologies and ventures.
The three panels represented large and growing sections of our economy in Lane County:
1. TECHNOLOGY (processing information);
2. MANUFACTURING (processing raw goods into finished products), and,
3. FOOD PRODUCTION (processing what we grow into high-quality finished products).
All three areas have tremendous potential for putting people in our county back to work. Through these processing ventures, we can also expect an influx of new talent bringing new dollars and new ideas to further bolster our diversity.
Williams talked about our long dependence on our chief natural resource, forests and timber lands, and how its resurgence can be augmented by increased attention to our other natural resources: our wealth of energetic and enthused people and our wide-spread agricultural land. While we might never see the complete return of the mills and processing plants that once dotted our landscape, we can expect Oregonians to thrive in new and exciting areas.
The three groups of panelists spoke specifically about the possibility of further growth not only of their companies, but of others that will be attracted by the critical mass of successful enterprises that is being accumulated here in Lane County.
Three major threads wove through the panels:
1. ”Branding” our county and its cities in a way that takes advantage of the livability and opportunities that abound here,
2. Local governments allowing companies to grow by providing land, transportation infrastructure and eliminating burdening bureaucracy that inhibits job creation, and,
3. Maintaining and enhancing our excellent kindergarten through graduation (k-12) and higher education opportunities.
Look for details of the panel discussions in subsequent Forum Lane posts.