Economic Development: A Shared Business Priority

The Oregon Business Plan and the Oregon Industry Cluster Network illustrate OBC’s leadership in forming economic development policy in conjunction with partners in the business community, with elected officials, and with state agencies.

The Oregon Business Plan

OBC founded the Oregon Business Plan in 2002 with Sen. Ron Wyden as a way to focus civic energies on Oregon’s possibilities at a time when the state was in a recessionary slump. The first Business Plan document and the Leadership Summit that ensued in December of that year galvanized leaders from all sectors and created a template for analyzing problems and acting on opportunities to improve Oregon’s prospects.

The Oregon Business Plan initially set two goals: create 25,000 net new jobs per year through 2020, and bring Oregon’s per capita income from 90 percent of the national average to above it by 2020. The Plan later added the goal of reducing poverty (currently at 15.4 percent) to below 10 percent by 2020.

To achieve these goals, the Plan envisions Oregon building up a strong set of innovative and globally competitive industry clusters that sell products and services outside of Oregon, in turn producing payrolls that support families and communities while funding critical public services that improve life and attract even more businesses.

As a strategy to enhance cluster success, the Plan recommends improvements in public policies that promote conditions essential for business success and growth in jobs that pay well. These conditions are grouped into what are called “4Ps for Prosperity.” These are People (a talented workforce created by a good education system), Productivity (quality infrastructure, resource utilization, and competitive regulations and business costs), Place (quality of life and communities), and Pioneering Innovation (a culture of research, commercialization, and product and process innovation).

Since 2002, the Business Plan has recommended policy initiatives that focus on improvement in both public services and job creation. Business plan successes include adoption of state policies to enhance transportation infrastructure, redesign public education, reduce runaway public pension costs, stabilize health insurance costs, boost research and technology innovation, improve business access to capital, and increase industrial land supply.

Other initiatives in the works include reforming Oregon’s unstable revenue system, improving forest health and utilization, improving workforce systems, and securing additional water for fish runs and agriculture in the Umatilla Basin.

With input from business and public leaders around the state, the Business Plan revises its priorities and initiatives each year and then vets its recommendations each December at an annual day-long leadership summit that typically draws more than 1,000 business and government leaders, including the Governor, Oregon’s two U.S. senators, and other elected and agency officials. Initiatives recommended at the Leadership Summit are often taken up directly weeks later when the Legislature goes into session.

OBC manages the Business Plan and Leadership Summit on behalf of a coalition of leading business associations and at-large representatives who serve on a Steering Committee that guides the project.

Industry Cluster Network

As noted above, Oregon’s economy is driven by companies that ring up sales outside of Oregon, bringing in fresh dollars that support Oregonians and their families, local businesses, and government services.  These “traded-sector” companies tend to cluster because they draw competitive advantage from proximity to a skilled workforce, to specialized suppliers, and to a shared base of sophisticated knowledge about their industry.

By identifying our traded-sector industry clusters and paying special attention to their needs, Oregonians and policy-makers have an effective way of thinking about how to grow our economy and create more high-paying jobs.  The Oregon Business Plan launched the Oregon Industry Cluster Network in 2005 to identify Oregon’s mature, emerging, and potential industry clusters and assist cluster participants as they work to accelerate innovation and the growth of their industries. 

Industry clusters play a prominent role at the Leadership Summit, sharing their efforts to build export sales and job, and identifying ways that policies promoted by the Business Plan can improve their competitive prospects. Cluster Network activities are guided by the Cluster Network Steering Committee. Its members represent clusters at all stages of development as well as Oregon public agencies focused on economic development.

Our Work

The Oregon Business Plan has created a template for analyzing problems and acting on opportunities to improve Oregon’s prospects.