By Ben Alexander, Headwaters Economics— The recession has been difficult across the West and especially so in Central Oregon. With 20-20 hindsight, it is now clear that a heavy reliance on real estate, construction and related finance is perilous.
Such an economic foundation is too narrow by itself to sustain long-term prosperity and resilience. With high land and home prices, specifically in Bend and Sisters, recruitment interest dwindled and existing companies considered departure.
But the downturn also forced a restructuring that has improved the region’s economic competitiveness. Central Oregon is a special and unique place with many advantages. The region’s challenge is to sustain its desirability as a place to live to help create a broader range of industry diversity, especially in high-wage, high-skill sectors.… (more…)