Jan’s Take on Economic Growth
There are a number of recent signs that Salem’s economic climate is somewhat improving, such as Garmin’s $14 million expansion in 2015 and NORPAC Foods’ recent addition of a $25 million cold storage warehouse. However, I believe Salem will need sustained economic growth to catch up with the rest of Oregon. Statistics indicate that the median household income in Salem in 2013 was $43,436--- for the rest of Oregon it was $50,251. Likewise, the median household income rose by 11.7% in Salem between 2000 and 2013, but it rose by 22.8% for the rest of Oregon.
In my opinion, there is a vibrant relationship between government (state, county, and city) and the nonprofit sector in our region, especially in the social services arena. For instance, there are dozens of nonprofits in Salem serving inmates and their families alone. I believe if we saw similar cooperation and coordination between public and private sector organizations, we could improve regional economic conditions. In particular, we need to foster this relationship to attract higher wage jobs and capital investments, alleviate infrastructure deficiencies, and remove regulatory barriers.
Local economies rarely prosper by chance. They require careful, realistic, long-term strategic planning. City Council needs to pursue strategies that encourage a business environment where local businesses can cooperate and create a competitive advantage for the entire region. This requires facilitating a process that builds trust and commitment. The process must include local government, the private sector, and non-profits. It’s a team effort; no one can do it alone.
What will 2016 hold for Salem? I am excited to see our city go beyond divisive politics to build a bridge to Minto-Brown, create hope for the homeless, and turn blighted lots into new communities. We are preparing to invest in our city infrastructure and public safety, and poised to develop our local economy. It will take some serious listening, thinking, and communicating. I’m ready to be part of making Salem a great place to live.