Message from the CEO: March 2024

Legislative Outcomes and Economic Development in Central Oregon

The 82nd Oregon Legislative Assembly concluded on Friday, March 8th, and though it was a statutorily limited short session, several bills were passed related to economic development efforts. This year’s legislative priorities, while varied, were dominated largely by Measure 110 reform and affordable housing. Through Governor Kotek’s $376 million housing package in SB 1537, the State aims to ramp up housing production in local communities, a foundation for attracting and retaining a robust workforce. Moreover, appropriations for local infrastructure through  SB 1530, specifically targeting residential housing development in Culver, Madras, Redmond, Warm Springs, and Deschutes County, represent a targeted investment in our region’s future. While some communities like Bend did not receive funds from this bill, the overarching emphasis on housing development remains a positive stride toward enhancing the economic landscape.

EDCO’s Advocacy in Action

EDCO’s collaboration with the Oregon Economic Development Association (OEDA) to extend the Regionally Significant Industrial Sites (RSIS) program through SB 1526 has been a testament to the proactive approach in economic advocacy. The RSIS program offers a vital mechanism for local governments to prepare industrial sites for use, incentivized through future job creation. Presently, Redmond and Madras both have designated RSIS sites.  Although the recent extension did not include immediate funding, EDCO is set on securing financial support in the 2025 session, aiming to strengthen industrial development in Redmond, Madras and beyond.

Workforce and Industry

Funding was allocated for childcare support through the passage of HB 4098, an important step for Central Oregon’s workforce talent. For local manufacturing, the semiconductor industry was again part of the legislative narrative this session. HB 4154 established an industry consortium to define strategies for building educational pathways and research capacity across Oregon. With Central Oregon being home to three semiconductor manufacturing companies and part of the broader supply chain, these legislative actions offer a springboard for regional growth and innovation.

A Look Ahead: Opportunities and Gratitude

As we look to the future, we remain grateful for the dedication and hard work of the Redmond Economic Development Inc. (REDI) / EDCO Legislative Committee, chaired by Keith Witcosky, Redmond City Manager, and the collective efforts of all members involved. Their commitment to advocating for Central Oregon’s economic development is invaluable.

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