Oregon remains magnet

By Observer editorial January 15, 2013 07:19 am

Maybe the most surprising thing in a recent news story that identified Oregon as the second most popular moving destination in the United States is the revelation that Washington, D.C., placed first.

Oregon is so much that D.C. is not. Oregon is all wide open spaces and tall mountains and peaceful valleys; D.C.’s all congestion and crowding and crime and controversy and hustle and bustle. Oregon’s got the Crater Lake Rim; D.C’s got the Beltway. Oregon’s got Multnomah Falls, D.C.’s got politicians taking falls. Oregon’s got —

No, never mind. We’re being cheeky. A little conceited, too. But the news story, citing statistics from the country’s two largest moving companies, is enough to make any Oregonian’s heart swell with pride. It says people are moving here in droves, or are, at least, compared to places like New Jersey, Illinois and West Virginia, where they’re leaving in droves.

Combined data from United Van Lines and Atlas Van Lines say more of their business in 2012 involved moving people into the Beaver State, instead of moving people out. Almost 60 percent of Oregon moves handled by the companies last year were in-bound. And more data reflecting positive growth comes from the Department of Motor Vehicles, which notes an upswing of residents trading their out-of-state driver’s licenses for ones valid in Oregon. Statistics for 2012 haven’t been compiled yet, but the year before, Oregon received almost 60,000 licenses from other states and Canadian provinces.

News of Oregon’s high in-bound count is uplifting because it indicates we’re mending from the Great Recession. The moving companies note a high number of corporate relocations, with much of that activity taking place in the technology industries. It’s nice to think we’re making a comeback.

Of course, folks living in our part of the state — Union, Wallowa and Baker counties — might feel left out of that because there hasn’t been much new industrial development. But that could change. At least, there are people in the private and public sectors working on it, trying to ensure there’s some large lot industrial land available should some big company finally show interest in putting roots down here. For one thing, the recent land acquisition in the Baum Industrial Park by Union County and the Union County Economic Development Corporation makes us more competitive.

Anybody who has lived in Oregon for any length of time knows why new people keep coming. We’ve got majestic scenery, and an astounding number of outdoor recreational opportunities. We’re metropolitan to some extent, but to a larger one we’re rural or semi-rural, small-town and friendly. We’ve got no end of communities that are, by and large, good, safe places to raise kids. And slow but sure, our jobs picture is brightening. 

We’ve got our share of trouble and turmoil, but it’s low-level by comparison. Oregon isn’t heaven, but to a lot of folks from elsewhere, it looks something like it.