Good morning and welcome to Oregon’s first infrastructure summit!
I would like to thank all of our partners—both federal and state—for playing a vital role in this conference.
● John Huffman, USDA – Rural Development
● Oregon League of Cities
● Umatilla Indian Reservation
● Oregon Association of Water Utilities
● Oregon Metro
● Northwest Environmental Business Council
We come together today from many different organizations with a common goal: to build a resilient infrastructure for a resilient economy.
You’re here to ask questions, to exchange ideas, and yes, to argue a little bit about the future of Oregon infrastructure.
Because it is truly the bedrock of our state. When working properly, infrastructure often goes unnoticed, but without it, we’re literally in for a bumpy ride.
Oregon is built on roads, bridges, and public transit. But those roads cut through forest lands, and those bridges bisect Oregon’s many rivers and streams.
We are interconnected through the basic infrastructure of our state: broadband, watersheds, transportation, economic development, human services, natural resources, and more.
For the last several years, we have sought to provide ALL Oregonians with the opportunity to believe in the idea of a brighter tomorrow.
A tomorrow that includes a stronger education system for our children, affordable housing, and access to critical health care services. But it also includes key investments in infrastructure that improve and protect our state, and allow Oregonians to access their schools, homes, and jobs.
These investments reflect Oregon values.
We believe that humans can live in harmony with their natural surroundings.
We believe in data-driven, proactive plans that lay a solid foundation for Oregon’s future.
And we believe that Oregonians are capable of doing great things when we invest in their everyday needs.
Past approaches to infrastructure funding have generally been reactive rather than proactive.
We need to change that mindset. To think in far-reaching increments, much further ahead than most people ever have—whether that’s a decade or a century.
In short, we’re looking to accomplish long-term change instead of solving short-term problems.
Take, for example, Oregon’s 100-Year Water Future.
Much is at stake. We can no longer run away from climate change. Especially when it comes to our diminishing supply of clean and potable water.
Oregon’s water infrastructure has served us well, but is showing its age. We must invest natural and built infrastructure to meet current water challenges and adapt systems to meet our needs, not for the next 5 or 10 years, but for the next 100.
We must continue to grow and build infrastructure while also recognizing that we must steward the natural resources, fish, and wildlife in this state to preserve it for future generations.
We must create a vibrant Oregon for the next 100 years.
We are all frustrated at the chronic underinvestment in infrastructure at the federal level. If we can’t count on the feds, it’s time for the state to step up and do what needs to be done.
That means cool, clean water for both watersheds and water pipes.
That means safe roads and bridges for communities from Baker City to Coos Bay and everywhere in between.
It means rural broadband, a critical piece of 21st century infrastructure. Just as roads and bridges connect urban and rural areas, so do cable technologies.
And it means resilient and redundant systems that will help us weather disasters, both natural and manmade.
I hope that you take advantage of what this summit has to offer: a chance to collaborate while you innovate.
After all, it’s not every day that someone asks you to spend an entire workday discussing the ins and outs of how efforts to expand broadband can affect watershed restoration!
So, let’s get to it! We’re counting on your collaboration and creative problem-solving to build a better Oregon, literally from the ground up.