Does your town appear on the “People Can’t Flee... Fast Enough” list? There is such a list and there are Oregon towns on it. Not to fear, some of those same towns also appear on the opposite list as great destinations.
That being said, it is advantageous to know what types of things attract and drive people away from a community, especially one that is eager to attract and retain workforce, families, and retirees.
For instance, Eugene, Oregon took a hit as #14 on the ‘flee’ list based on the “incredibly high cost” and shortage of affordable housing. Eugene also appears on the great destination list for its wonderful weather and location  and nearby Springfield has less costly housing.
Eugene - both a 'Flee' and 'Destination' city.
Portland is often considered a destination city on many of the most desirable city lists. Yet, two of the three counties near Portland are beginning to decline in population, perhaps due to a ‘flee’ problem (most likely high housing costs, traffic, political unrest, and crime). [3,4] Cities like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. all have perennial outgoing migration (and all of which are frequently on the ‘flee’ list).
The cost of home ownership is often the #1 reason to flee, followed closely by taxes and unemployment. But there are other reasons such as natural disasters, horrific weather particularly in the winter, crime, carnivorous insects, taxes, traffic, pollution, cost of living, housing, and lack of jobs... With many cities on the ‘flee list having more than one of these problems. But you might not know that an area has such problems, unless you do the homework or have lived in one of those ‘flee’ towns.
Makes the southern Oregon coast look pretty darn good, but we could look even BETTER
There are some initiatives out there that pit community against community to make communities more attractive to new and expanding businesses. In Arkansas, they have the Competitive Communities Initiative focused on improving the quality of life, creating stronger communities, and helping communities prepare for economic development opportunities. 
The highly successful Arkansas program was started in 2018. Then Governor Asa Hutchinson said “We don’t just want to compete, we want to win. My top priority is to grow the economy of this state, to create jobs, and for Arkansas to enter a time of sustained economic power and influence.” 
The winning community is given a coveted designation that helps them communicate what they have to offer and how much they want to succeed. 
Basically, people are going somewhere, and maybe anywhere, they perceive to be better than where they are at.
Some issues are long term and communities may not have fast and easy solutions. The good news is the community and private efforts (like South Coast Development Council, Inc.) and technology which are helping to bridge common gaps. For instance, one can now get much of their education online, get advanced health care via video-assisted conference calls, and get a new pair of Wellie rain boots delivered overnight.
Our challenge may be how do we get the attention of the talented and skilled professionals fleeing from the big cities and entice them to stop awhile. Maybe our message should be “The weather is awesome, the food is good, housing is getting dramatically better, cost of living reasonable, and traffic jams rare. You and your family will like it here, even when it rains.”
1 People Can't Flee These US Cities Fast Enough (https://moneywise.com/a/people-cant-flee-these-us-cities-fast-enough)
2 The Eugene Housing Market Demystified: Our 2019 Real Estate Forecast (https://www.lohrrealestate.com/eugene-real-estate-market-forecast-2019/)
3 Author’s knowledge
4 Real Estate Data for San Francisco (https://www.trulia.com/real_estate/San_Francisco-California/market-trends/)
5 Arkansas: Creating Competitive Communities (https://businessfacilities.com/2019/03/arkansas-creating-competitive-communities/)
6 Migration to Oregon, an Update (https://oregoneconomicanalysis.com/2019/07/11/migration-to-oregon-an-update/)
An economic unicorn is a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion.1 This spring an Oregon company was sold to a Canadian company for $946 million...just short of being an economic unicorn.
Startups play an important role in job creation and typically create two-thirds of new jobs nationally since the Great Recession. In some years, they may create almost all of the net jobs in the national economy.2 Combine innovation, successful startups, and partnerships and voila’ you may get a unicorn!
Oregon is known for innovation, ranking #3 behind California and Massachusetts in its success in building an innovation-based economy according to an April 22 news release from Business Oregon. Business Oregon helps support the innovation environment through public-private partnerships that help create new jobs and companies, diversify Oregon's economy, and bring Federal research dollars into to the State. 3
Business Oregon created the Oregon Innovation Index which creates a research report by looking at 20 different aspects of innovation. Oregon performed best in the categories of invention, translation, and economic prosperity and made strong gains in small business innovation research and technology transfer. Business Oregon also developed an innovation council called Oregon InC (Innovation Council) with three funding strategies that support innovation activities, which include:
Infrastructure is an important part of economic development.
There are two broad classifications of infrastructure: Social and physical and both are extremely important in recruiting and maintaining our quality of life. Social infrastructure includes things that indirectly increases long-term productivity (such as housing, health care, education, sanitation, etc.). Physical infrastructure includes things that directly supports more immediate production needs (such as transportation, telecommunication, banking, technology, finance, energy, etc.). 1
Infrastructure can also be looked at as losses like the two trillion gallons of drinking water lost to water main leaks, 5.5 billion hours in traffic congestion, 56,000 crumbling bridges, 15,500 deficient dams, and more. Infrastructure is more than just potholes. 2
Even though infrastructure is critical, investments over the years and governmental entities are struggling to plug the holes in the dike, literally. Some report suggest that the U.S. needs to spend $3.3 trillion every year through 2030 just to keep up with expected growth rates. 2
There is no silver bullet solution. Nearly 100 years ago, a gas tax was created by Oregonians. The first one cent per gallon tax was passed in February 1919 and was used to build the Pacific and Columbia River Highways. Soon after, many States and some cities adopted similar taxes.
At one time, the gas taxes and other fees covered 70 percent of the building and maintenance costs for highways. 2 Not so much anymore, particularly since the Federal gas tax was not raised, or even adjusted for inflation, from 1993 until 2018. The Federal gas tax is not indexed to inflation which has increased by a total of 73 percent from 1993 to 2018. 3
Many states have raised the tax on gas, knowing that the raise is not enough to solve the problem. The U.S. Highway Trust Fund has operated in deficit since 2008 due to the lack of change and the significantly higher fuel efficiency of modern vehicles. Sometimes the gas tax monies get redirected to pay for non-transportation needs such as State police (Pennsylvania) which does not help the problem either. 2 At this point, a gallon of gasoline in Oregon is assessed a tax of $0.34, and a Federal tax of $0.184.
Did you know? Nearly 100 years ago, a gas tax was created by Oregonians? The first one cent per gallon tax was passed in February 1919 and was used to build the Pacific and Columbia River Highways. Soon after, many States and some cities adopted similar taxes. 5
Some cities, such as Coquille, have a local gas tax of 3 percent. 4 Earlier this year Coos Bay enacted a Transportation Utility Fee that created a new revenue source for street maintenance. This new fee will generate nearly a $1 million a year and make it possible to repair potholes in a more durable manner, resulting in fewer repeat repairs. As the City gets caught up on the pothole problem, these funds will be redirected to major street rehabilitation projects. Different fuels, such as aviation gasoline are taxed as well (at differing rates compared to other types of gas). 5
Why is all this important? Because our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) percentage is closely associated to infrastructure investments. Every 1 percent of infrastructure stock often relates to a 1 percent growth in the per capita GDP. 1 That is a great ‘bang for your buck!”
1 Economic Infrastructure – Intro, Types, Significance (https://www.toppr.com/bytes/economic-infrastructure/)
2 The Infrastructure Gap: Financing and Funding The Future (https://infrastructure.aecom.com/infrastructure-funding)
3 Fuel taxes in the United States. Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_taxes_in_the_United_States)
4 Oregon Gasoline Tax Rate (by Jurisdiction) (https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/FTG/Pages/Current%20Fuel%20Tax%20Rates.aspx)
5 Revenue For Road Maintenance Challenges, City of Coos Bay, electronic newsletter dated June 21, 2019
Revitalizing communities takes lot of intentional effort. The Oregon Main Street American Coordinating Program is a key strategy to this successful approach. The goal of the program is to “build high quality, livable, and sustainable communities that will grow Oregon’s economy while maintaining a sense of place” which is based on the National Trust for Historic Preservation Main Street Center.1
This program has created and leads a grassroots network to build stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. This effort includes over 40 coordinating programs and over 1,200 neighborhoods and communities. The program delivers a broad-based holistic community engagement strategy that focuses on four core quality of life revitalization principles including: Sustainable Organization, Effective Promotion, Quality Design, and Economic Vitality
Many of our southern coastal communities are engaged in some way in this four-level program. The levels and involvement include:
(1) Performing Main Street targets communities previously certified as a National Main Street city and have advanced downtown programs
(2) Transforming Downtown targets communities committed to downtown revitalization using the Main Street approach but need additional technical assistance to get there (Greater Bandon Assn., Port Orford, and Coos Bay).
(3) Exploring Downtown focuses on communities that are interested in revitalizing their communities and want to know more (Coquille, Myrtle Point, Reedsport, Florence), and
(4) Affiliate focuses on communities who want to learn more (Brookings). 2
On October 2-4 Tillamook will host the 2019 Oregon Main Street Conference, Connecting People, Places, & Partners. The conference will kick off on October 2 by offering Excellence in Downtown Revitalization Awards. The conference will also feature Melody Warnick who wrote the practical guide: This Is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are, that talks about loving the place where you live. Her book has been featured in the New York Times, Time magazine, Fast Company, Psychology Today, and others. She explores the groundbreaking concept of place attachment and leads longtime residents and newcomers alike to make a more passionate relationship with their community.
Melody Warnick author of This is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are, will be a keynote speaker at the October conference in Tillamook.
Registration opens in July see website for more information. Participants will leave with strategies and tools to spur on revitalization efforts in their Main Street programs.
The South Coast Development Council, Inc. is a member of the Main Street American Program, Economic Vitality Committees for Coos Bay, Greater Bandon Assn., Port Orford, and Gold Beach.
REFERENCE & Photo:
1 Main Street Coordinating Program (https://www.oregon.gov/oprd/hcd/shpo/pages/mainstreet.aspx)
2 2019 Oregon Main Street Network Participants list (https://www.oregon.gov/oprd/HCD/SHPO/docs/OMS%20Tier%20List%20Feb%202019.pdf)
Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) comes in many flavors. Making sure there is a workforce available to help support your industry is critical and often tough. Log truck driving careers can be a fast transition compared to other trades and pay very well!