Investments give boost to area economy
For the past year or so the news has been filled with economic doom and
gloom — nationally, statewide and locally. But in the past few weeks,
and amid more doom and gloom, are snippets of some positive events,
Grande Ronde Hospital’s new clinic, the Regional Medical Center, will eventually employ about 70 people. Sun Storage will be opening a manufacturing facility in the airport industrial park with plans to eventually employ a “couple dozen’’ people. And Northwood Manufacturing has purchased and will reopen the former Fleetwood Plant. Although these three projects won’t completely overcome the hit the economy has taken from Fleetwood’s closing and will take from Boise Cascade’s decision to shut down the La Grande sawmill, all are positive signs of private investment in our region.
Grande Ronde Hospital invested $3.6 million in the construction of the Regional Medical Clinic. Too, it is bringing in more doctors and other health professionals, plus support staff. Specialists and telemedicine capabilities make the hospital and clinic a regional draw, bringing more people to the community. GRH is and will continue to be an important economic force in our community.
Sun Storage is the result of an idea borne by a couple of guys from Wallowa County. Louis Perry and Jonathan Monschke’s company, headquartered in Enterprise, will build solar arrays at a building at the Union County Airport. Their company taps into the trend in growing “green’’ jobs.
And then there’s Ron Nash’s Northwood Manufacturing, which bid $2.05 million for the Fleetwood assets in Island City. Nash told The Observer he wants to help put the Fleetwood workers back to work, and will hire 100 people. Nash understands that the Grande Ronde Valley has a built-in skilled workforce that can produce quality RVs. Creating new jobs is important for our economy.
So, while we’re still awaiting the ripple effects of Boise curtailing its sawmill operation, and we don’t quite know how severe local school and university cuts will be, the fact is there are some great things happening.
Union and Wallowa counties aren’t going to dry up and blow away. Our region, like many throughout the country, has been dealt a serious blow in this economic downturn. No doubt about it. But we will persevere. We’re going to get through this recession, and we’re going to grow. Investments like the ones GRH, Sun Storage and Northwood are making are examples of what is possible. There will likely be more lean days in the next couple of months. But beyond that, we’re poised for a rebound.