HOW ABOUT SOME GOOD NEW? BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THERE HAS BEEN SOME LOCALLY
Over the course of the past year or so, Americans have been besieged with bad economic news. First came higher energy prices, followed by falling stock values. And then came the layoffs thousands of them around the country. The news has been depressing, to say the least. On the national front, about the only good news has been word of a tax rebate and cut, the impacts of which wont be known for a few months.
But dont despair. Not all the news is bad, especially on the local front. Despite declining school enrollments in several of our local school districts and the budget and staff cuts that accompany them, some good things have been happening in Northeast Oregon.
Not all is gloom and doom. Consider that:
Wallowa Forest Products reopened.
The states share of funding for Eastern Oregon Universitys new science building was approved by the Legislature.
Boise Cascade has added a second shift at its Elgin stud mill.
Elgin is seeing life in its new industrial park.
Unions new golf course is up and operating and bringing more people to town.
Elgin and La Grande both will be receiving sizeable grants from the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation, Elgins for the final funding piece to turn its long-awaited dream of an RV park into reality and La Grande for some new ball fields.
The National Marine Fisheries Service is opening a regional office in La Grande that will employ 14 people.
The Oregon Youth Authority will be able to open its new River Bend detention center at Hilgard, putting several people to work.
And, theres a glimmer of hope that the rail corridor between Elgin and Joseph might be spared.
Together, these recent developments point to some positive things that are or soon will be happening in our little corner of the state. They may not be enough to overshadow the negative economic news occurring nationally, but they show that some good things are happening locally.
Turning the tide on declining school enrollments and the export of our young people and families to other areas to find work will take time to change, but it appears that the region has some momentum. But we cannot lose sight of the importance of diversifying our economic base and working to achieve it.