On November 14, over 175 business leaders, community members, and local officials attended the 2013 Regional Prosperity Summit at the University of Oregon’s Ford Alumni Center. The summit was an example of the critical partnerships that have been charting a course through the Great Recession and accelerating regional prosperity. The Cities of Eugene and Springfield, Lane County, the University of Oregon, and the Eugene and Springfield Chambers of Commerce organized the event to review economic progress and begin a discussion of new possibilities.
The keynote address, given by Max Williams, President and CEO of the Oregon Community Foundation, spoke to philanthropy’s role in promoting prosperity. Afterwards, expert panels representing sectors drawn from education technology, food and beverage production, and manufacturing industrial clusters discussed their ideas for the region to build, retain and expand companies. Audience members participated by voting via text message for the ideas they felt were the most promising or important and in table discussions. Key ideas from presenters and audience comments included:
• Supporting quality schools and providing unique educational opportunities;
• Training younger generations for open, high-paying jobs;
• Re-branding the region with a focus on the distinctive products, services and qualities of our area that make it a great place to work and live;
• Simplifying system development charges, permitting and development processes as well as providing assistance to navigate development hurdles;
• Supporting infrastructure development, like airport capacity or fiber connectivity downtown; and
• Creating shared resources to support workforce readiness and our region’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and young community members.
The second day of the summit, held in Springfield, brought together regional federal officials and representatives with community leaders to discuss highlighted opportunities and the investments needed to accelerate them. Summit partners are working on a report that summarizes the information presented and input collected on both days and outlines the next steps.