Despite painting a dismal picture on Monday night at a meeting hosted by the Union County Chamber of Commerce, Rep. Greg Barreto said he is hesitantly optimistic about Oregon’s future.

Economic development was the primary focus of Monday night’s meeting. The Cove resident said neighboring counties offer cheap electricity, cheap land and cheap water.

“We don’t have that in La Grande,” Barreto said during the meeting held at Cook Memorial Library.

According to Barreto, in September the state lost between 3,400 and 3,800 jobs.

“It’s not known for being a business-friendly state,” he said.

For example, Oregon’s new carbon tax is honing in on the fuel and electricity companies in Oregon. The tax, designed to penalize polluters and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, could force large businesses like Intel Corporation, located in Hillsboro, out of the state to save the money.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer

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