Community leaders and experts on rural development gathered in Corvallis over the weekend at the Regards to Rural conference to talk about boosting rural communities in Oregon. A common theme of the conference was economic development (the conference brochure mentioned “economic development” 18 times). This got us wondering: do rural economies develop differently than urban ones? In other words, what do you have to do differently to create a job in a rural area versus an urban one? Last year we broadcast a series of shows on rural economies, but we never focused solely on creating jobs in rural areas.
According to Dallas Fridley, regional economist at the Oregon Employment Department, infrastructure and workforce are key to creating jobs. Any business involved in moving stuff from one place to another will benefit from access to a major airport or freeway. And in terms of workforce, companies that employ a lot of people and are looking to hire locally need to be sure that they can fill their open positions with people in the community. But sometimes the needs of a business don’t match up with community’s resources.
Have you recently hired someone or been hired in a rural area? What do you think should be done to create jobs in rural Oregon?