Leadership Summit, Building Opportunity, Returns Live with Fresh Policy Proposals

After a year that it was presented in virtual format, the Oregon Leadership Summit returns live to the Oregon Convention Center Monday, December 6 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. This is the 19th Summit since 2002. In keeping with this year’s theme Building Opportunity, we are advocating policy and investment proposals in manufacturing, workforce education, and other opportunities to benefit more Oregonians, in particular those historically excluded and hit hardest by the pandemic.

This Summit reflects the uniqueness of the moment. The pandemic and trends long evident are changing the nature and demands of work. Too many Oregonians have been excluded from the benefits of prosperity. Our natural systems are under stress. Historic changes in global supply chains and markets have created a pivotal opportunity to grow manufacturing and jobs. That, in turn, calls for upgraded workforce education and support that’s accessible to more Oregonians.

At the same time, Oregon’s coffers are flush with unprecedented federal funding and state revenues that could be well used to promote manufacturing, invest in upgraded workforce systems, and address a wider range of infrastructure and human needs.

Key speakers will include Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel, on the historic opportunity in semiconductor manufacturing, and Ben Cannon, Executive Director of the Higher Education Coordination Commission, on Oregon’s postsecondary and workforce education strategy. Key participants in main stage discussions will be U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, commenting on this year’s Business Plan policy proposals, and Governor Kate Brown with a special focus on investing in a stronger workforce education system.

This Year’s Policy and Investment Proposals

Here’s a summary of policy and investment proposals favored in this year’s Summit for initiation in 2022. To read the full policy papers, click the title.

  • Shared Prosperity Strategy for the 2020s.
  • Manufacturing Reset; Semiconductor Expansion. Oregon has an extraordinary opportunity to grow its manufacturing base across many sectors. Our policy recommendations highlight specific changes needed in land use (more land, more infrastructure), workforce (significant need for investment in training), regulatory environment, research, and more. The most urgent opportunity is semiconductor expansion.
  • Adult Workforce Investment. Tens of thousands of Oregonians lost jobs during the pandemic. With ARPA dollars, we have the opportunity to retrain them for high-wage, high demand positions in manufacturing, health care, and construction. As we do so, we can reinvent the way we provide services to dislocated adults.
  • Broadband. During the pandemic, broadband has become a critical resource for work, education, health care, and personnel connection, yet many Oregonians do not have access to it. Three components of a broadband strategy include access, affordability, and adoption. Of the three, adoption is the most challenging. It will require provision of community-based technical assistance, equipment, and software, as well as promotion of internet benefits and literacy for those not now connected. Our strategy recommends redirecting dollars to this important component.
  • HousingOregon is stuck in a housing affordability crisis that has extended more than a decade. Overpriced housing is leaving thousands of Oregonians without shelter, stressing family incomes, and making the state a difficult place to live, work, and attract talent. The crisis stems from producing too few housing units relative to population and job growth. We need to support accelerated housing production – 30,000 units per year – envisioned by the 2019 Legislature through HB 2003.
  • EITC and Child Care Tax Credit. The tax code has become an important tool for providing supports and encouraging upward mobility for low-income Oregonians. Unfortunately, too few Oregonians take advantage of the opportunity.  Investment in tax preparation services and outreach through community-based organizations could make a big difference. The Legislature should act to fund these services.
  • Interstate Bridge Replacement. Replacement of the I-5 Columbia River bridge is back on the table. In 2014 replacement of the bridge was a top priority of the Oregon Business Plan. All of the reasons to replace the aging Columbia spans are still in place: transportation safety and efficiency, West Coast commerce, regional economic opportunity, and construction jobs. By April 2022 the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program intends to finalize design plans for a new bridge. With an infusion of federal dollars likely, Oregon and Washington stakeholders must rally to this effort. At the same time, Oregon must find a solution on the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project, which seeks to alleviate congestion just south of the Columbia crossing and redress historic disruptions to the Albina community.

COVID Protocols

Although the Summit will be held in person, there will be a live stream of the event here for those who prefer to watch the proceedings online. We are committed to creating a COVID-conscious event by following CDC and community guidelines. To ensure a safe space for those who choose to attend in person, we will be limiting attendance to maintain social distancing, requiring vaccinations and masks, sanitizing surfaces, and more. Full details of our COVID protocols can be found here.

Key Speakers and Participants