Leadership Summit, Building Opportunity, Returned In Person with Fresh Policy Proposals

The Oregon Leadership Summit returned to the Oregon Convention Center on December 6 for its 19th session since 2002. In keeping with the year’s theme, Building Opportunity, the forum advocated 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 reflected 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 included Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel, on the historic opportunity in semiconductor manufacturing, and Ben Cannon, Executive Director of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, on Oregon’s postsecondary and workforce education strategy. Key participants in main stage discussions were 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.

  • Summary of the Shared Prosperity Strategy for the 2020s with Priorities for 2022 and 2023.
  • 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 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.

Supporting Documents

Media Coverage

Here’s a sampling of media coverage immediately following the event. We’ll add other stories to this list as they are published.

Leaders to discuss economy at Oregon Business Plan Leadership Summit – Portland Tribune

Intel’s CEO: Oregon has more at stake than any other state in chip industry’s revival – Oregon Live

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown floats $200M legislative package aimed at diversifying state’s workforce – Oregon Public Broadcasting

Oregon Business Plan: Inflation in the spotlight as manufacturers talk challenges – Portland Business Journal

Oregon Business Plan: Leaders on learning Covid’s lessons  – Portland Business Journal

Oregon task force aims to renew growth in state’s chip industry – Oregon Live

Investment needed in higher ed, job training to recover from pandemic, Oregon leaders say – Salem Reporter

Key Speakers and Participants


Summit Photos and Videos

View videos of the speaker and panel discussions from the December 6 Leadership Summit here.

View videos on Oregon’s manufacturing here.

View photos of the December 6 Leadership Summit here.