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We Can Do Better Than This 

Letter to the editor.

These are really tough times for many people in this region. Big hangover from the binge party of over-building and over-pricing of houses, and really, the party itself wasn't that hot either for most of us. So what? This is a great place to live, right? It's not great if you can't find a decent job and/or you're getting kicked out of your house.

Seeing first hand what happens when a region depends too much on a couple of cyclic industries, everyone now says we need to diversify our economy. Easier said than done, as every other region also wants good companies that provide good jobs. Quality of life we got, but honestly, we're pretty thin in some other key components.

Modern, globally competitive companies depend on a steady stream of innovations to prosper. Most such companies offer wages twice what is typical in our region, and generate numerous secondary jobs as well. We do have a number of such attractive employers in spite the lack of the intellectual infrastructure that underlies innovation and its translation into new products and services. Higher education in the disciplines and degrees relevant to such companies are mostly not available here. These crucial functions are provided in other places by a good-sized research university, which we ain't got and have little prospect of getting.

So what to do? I have proposed we establish an Applied Research Center, tailored to fill this big gap in our regional efforts to grow and recruit the companies that create good jobs. It will, working with existing economic development efforts, make us stronger players as we compete with other regions for these jobs. We see success in supporting small, innovative companies as opposed to giving away the City to score a branch of some mega-corp - a foolish distraction that often leads to serious disappointment.

Thanks to Senators Wyden and Merkley for their efforts at securing seed funding to the City of Bend to the tune of $200,000 in the current Senate budget bill that get this ambitious project going, one aimed squarely at creating good, permanent jobs.

As a hallmark, "poverty with a view" is really lame. Damned if we can't do better than "nice tourist town with high unemployment and foreclosure rates".

- Jim Clinton, Bend City Council


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