The overriding goal of Healthy Communities Initiative is to increase and maintain high-wage jobs that support families and maintain strong communities. Key measures of success are per capita income, reduction in poverty, and statewide job stability.
Quality jobs and higher incomes result in lower poverty rates and lower tax rates for quality public services that in turn, support a healthy economy. This relationship is known as the “Circle of Prosperity.”
Unfortunately, Oregon has not been meetings its goal. Since 1997, Oregon’s per capita income has fallen off pace with the US average. Poverty rates are near the highest in the nation, and unemployment has been hovering above the national average in both good and bad economic times.
Vision: Industries Leading the Globe in Innovation and Sustainability
All businesses add to Oregon’s economic well being. Local businesses, those that sell their products and services exclusively or primarily to local customers, and who face little direct competition from out of state–add to the local quality of life, provide entrepreneurial opportunities for citizens, and can be the springboard to help launch traded sector clusters. Most jobs in a community are actually not in the traded sector, but in local service industries such as restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals and schools.
Oregon’s economy is driven by companies that ring up sales outside of Oregon, bringing in fresh dollars that support families, local businesses, and government services – essentially companies who export their products and services to other U.S. states and other countries around the globe. Because traded sector industries bring in the fresh dollars that allow these service industries to grow, we must pay special attention to them. These companies are particularly important because they create new wealth rather than just recirculation of the wealth that is already here.
The success of traded-sector industries is not random. These industries tend to “cluster” based on shared advantages such as natural resources, a specialized workforce, proximity to suppliers, and a policy environment conducive to the industry’s activities. While the future of these industries is in their own hands, it is critical that Oregon’s leaders understand our key traded-sector industries, and pursue initiatives that continue to provide them with a competitive advantage over other places.
Traded sector industries are both small and large. According to one study, about 88% of companies that export have fewer than 200 employees. By identifying our traded-sector industry clusters and paying special attention to their needs, Oregonians and policy-makers have a way of thinking about how to grow our economy and create more high-paying jobs.