In classic movie Westerns, the real hero is the guy who sticks around and fights for good once the fur gets flying. There also is often a handsome dude who looks good but conveniently rides out of town bound for safer parts a few hours before his help might be useful.
Instead of outlaws, we need protection from economic obsolescence and needless government intervention that gets in the way of success. When it comes to Clatsop County, the biggest heroes are the individuals, businesses and industries who stay and keep generating profits, payrolls, taxes and civic involvement. Many of these local heroes were here for last week’s meetings with Business Oregon and Sean Robbins, the new director of the state’s economic development agency.
As Robbins and many others in his field now recognize, maintaining and expanding existing businesses is the source of 70 percent of job growth. By deciding to stay here and make the brave choice to expand, our county’s businesswomen and men provide opportunities that would probably never develop if we instead hoped to recruit out-of-town corporations.
When it comes to economic development, the front-line decisions and tone set by mayors, county commissioners and others are key to generating a climate for business growth.
This makes it surprising and disappointing that such leaders weren’t invited to last week’s meetings. Business Oregon needs to work in tandem with these leaders to make sure that state and local policies align in ways that create jobs, while still complying with environmental and occupational rules. As State Sen. Betsy Johnson told us, “The state needs to be reminded that local government on all levels are their partners.” The governor’s office was tone deaf not to include them.
Although Gov. John Kitzhaber deserves credit for venturing back to Clatsop County after making an epic top-down decision to drastically interfere in commercial salmon fishing – one of our traditional bedrock job-generators – his visit here ended up being superficial. Running for another four years in office, he apparently saw no need to participate in economic briefings that local business leaders sacrificed much of a workday to provide.