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Think Out Loud

The Cost of Business

Pete Springer/OPB

Oregon’s gross domestic product grew 3.4 percent in 2010, and our unemployment rate has dropped to 9.3 percent — that’s slightly above the the nationwide rate of 9.1 percent and the closest local unemployment rates have been to the national figures since March of 2008. What do all these numbers tell us about Oregon’s economy? What do they mean for state and local governments who are trying to lure businesses to Oregon?

Take SoloPower for example. In May, SoloPower announced plans to build a solar panel manufacturing plant in Portland. The Portland Development Commission and the City of Portland worked closely with SoloPower to make the deal, which involved millions of dollars in incentives, happen. And SoloPower’s case is not unique. Attracting big businesses is, for lack of better words, big business. Incentive programs exist all over the country because in many people’s minds, the jobs that businesses bring are worth paying for with tax breaks and other incentives. But some people question whether large incentives are the right approach.

Should state and local governments be doing more to lure businesses? Or are businesses and government already entwined enough?

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OPB | Broadcast: June 16, 2011