Scenic Areas, Wealth and Industrial Structure

Recently EDCO had the privilege to work with Josh Lehner, Economist at the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. He reached out to several Central Oregon organizations to share some research he’d done regarding service jobs in scenic areas compared to industry diversity (known as “industrial structure”). Josh’s research compared wealth job employment figures – those jobs supported by having wealth and tourism in your community – in areas that had high travel and tourism.

The research shows how the Bend MSA (Deschutes County) stacks up against other scenic areas and gives credence to the important role EDCO serves for our community. For more than four decades, EDCO has been working to diversify the regional economy by supporting long term strategic planning and growth efforts across the region and looking outside the area to attract new traded-sector businesses. The Central Oregon area has been a regional and national destination for decades, buoyed by the opening of Black Butte Ranch Resort in 1970.

Since 1981, EDCO has been working to balance our tourism economy with a strong base of middle-income jobs. Our outcomes are best depicted by the top graph to the left which shows that while the region’s leisure and hospitality employment levels are higher than the national average, we far outpace other scenic areas in employment within the professional, manufacturing and information (including tech sector) industries. The Scenic Areas’ Industrial Structure graph combines the data above into a single calculation, showing that our local economy ranks highest in diversity measures, a benchmark that insulates our community from economic vulnerabilities that can unevenly impact certain types of industries. Thank you for your support in making our region a national leader in economic growth. Josh’s full report is available at