Governor Kitzhaber gives progress report on Jobs and Economy agenda
June 29, 2011
Thank you, Pat. You and the other members of the Oregon Business Plan steering committee, as well as labor organizations and the business owners throughout the state I’ve had the opportunity to work with, have been vital to putting us on track to rebuild Oregon’s economy. I want to thank all of you for the tremendous work you’ve done to ensure our state will have a prosperous and sustainable future.
Oregon’s economic picture has gotten brighter over the past six months: more than 16,000 jobs have been created; the unemployment rate dropped a full percentage point, putting us on par with the rest of the nation; and we have the 7th fastest job growth in the country.
It’s the private sector that creates jobs, but the state has an important role to play. Since I came into office, we have worked hard to create the right climate for investing in new jobs, spurring economic development, and building a 21st century economy for Oregon – and I think this legislative session makes it clear just how much we’ve been able to achieve.
We set pathways to new jobs through the Cool Schools initiative – which has the potential to create substantial work for the building trades, who were so hard hit by the recession, in every county of this state. We created targeted tax incentives to continue support for industries like film and video production and biomass and a new incentive for Oregon businesses that expand their payroll.
By funding Business Oregon, Oregon Innovation Council, the Credit Enhancement Fund, and the Strategic Reserve Fund, we will be able to get Oregon’s businesses the access to financing and capital they need to be successful. Thanks to the Strategic Reserve Fund, the Port of Portland – which I want to thank for hosting today’s event – has restored air cargo service to Asia through Asiana Airlines, creating 80 new jobs and adding about $27 million a year to Oregon’s economy.
And we have also helped to create an environment that will help Oregon’s businesses keep their doors open and grow by reducing red tape and speeding permitting processes and allowing state agencies to buy local so we can keep our dollars flowing right here.
Perhaps the most lasting impact we will ultimately have on Oregon’s economy and business climate is the work we accomplished transforming our education and health care systems to make them more efficient, effective, and less costly. I believe these changes are absolutely essential to Oregon’s long-term recovery; essential to building the workforce of the 21st century; and essential to raising our per capita income back above the national average, which is a key goal of the Oregon Business Plan.
We could not have achieved all this without a strong team of business and labor leaders at our side – and again, I thank you for that. But we still have more work to do if we are going to create 25,000 jobs a year, raise our per capita income above the national average, and improve the quality of life for all Oregonians.
We must continue to improve economic development and the business finance tools available to Oregon companies so that we can boost early stage and venture investment.
We improved our regulatory review and permitting process, and we will still look for opportunities to more easily able to do business here without sacrificing the things we Oregonians hold dear and value.
We must do more to protect our state and our citizens from the boom and bust cycle that characterized our economy for generations.
I look forward to working with you to move priorities like these further in the months ahead. But before we move too far into the future, I want to bring John Mohlis up to give you a better sense of how the work we’ve done in the past six months will look on the ground.