Getting By on Looks and Charm

Forbes magazine columnist Joel Kotkin, whose comments about the economic ills of our state and city The Eye focused on recently, was on OPB's "Morning

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Forbes magazine columnist Joel Kotkin, whose comments about the economic ills of our state and city The Eye focused on recently, was on OPB's "Morning Edition" today offering more of the same -- along with some encouragement.


Kotkin's main point was that it no longer works (if it ever did) to try to build an economy solely on the basis of a place's niceness. Oregon and California have coasted along on their looks, he said - "It's sort of like a really nice-looking male or female at a bar; they don't have to work very hard because they're gonna get attention" - but the competition from other states is too tough for them to get away with it anymore.

The Eye doesn't buy Kotkin's argument that "doctrinaire" environmental regulation has driven businesses out of the state, but we couldn't agree more with his statement that "you have to build an economy that's based on something other than people moving from somewhere else because it's nicer" - a lesson that Bend, as well as Oregon, needs to learn ASAP.

Kotkin ended on an upbeat note, offering some reasons to hope for an Oregon comeback:

"Oregon has all the right things. It's a nice place to live, it has a decent education system, it has a base of technology, much of it coming from California; it has the international trade component, it has an agricultural component - it has many, many things going for it. So whereas it's sometimes difficult to sit down and say, 'Well, how does Michigan come back?' I think you can figure out how Oregon can come back."

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