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Economic Impacts

University of Oregon, Ecosystem Workforce Program

OWEB helps improve the ecological and economic health of Oregon’s communities through its investment in watershed restoration. A 2010 research project from the University of Oregon (UofO) Ecosystem Workforce Program (EWP) showed that every $1 million of public investment in clean water and habitat restoration creates about 15-24 jobs. Organizations receiving OWEB grants typically hire small local businesses (by the Small Business Association definition), so 90% of funds stay in Oregon. OWEB investments have supported nearly 230 jobs per year. This would be nearly 7 jobs or 1-2 small businesses per county per year, if investments were distributed evenly across the state.

The EWP described this as an emerging “restoration economy,” a marketplace for watershed restoration goods and services. Restoration project managers hire consultants, contractors, and employees to design, implement, and maintain projects. Consultants and contractors hire field crews and rent or purchase equipment. Employees spend wages on goods and services in their local communities. The payoffs of habitat restoration projects yield immediate jobs at a level very similar to traditional infrastructure investments.

The research was the first of its kind to look in-depth at the economic impacts of forest and watershed restoration.The EWP thoroughly reviewed and combined information from 52 watershed council coordinator interviews, 190 contractor surveys, and 99 OWEB grants.

The University of Oregon provides an economic impact calculator and user guide.

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