Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Growth Industry isn't Growing.

No, I don't mean industries that are undergoing growth, I mean "GROWTH" is the industry of Bend. And the industry of Bend is "GROWTH".

This an umbrella term which I think pretty much covers all the jobs that came to Bend because of the Boom.

The term Ponzi scheme is overused, but I think completely appropriate to Bend.

Look -- I've lived here my whole life, so I have a pretty good idea of what kind of industries Bend had five years ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago.

And other than the "Growth" industry, I've seen very little that I would hang my hat on. Minor industry, small tech, nothing I would consider to amount to much.

To earn the original dollar.

Lots of retail, but that was part of the growth industry as well.

Schools, government and health -- those are neutral factors, present everywhere, though I'm willing to concede that as a regional hub, we get more than our share. Same with retail.

But, REAL industry, good paying jobs? I just don't see them.

We have tourism and retirement. Both notoriously low-paying jobs.

So what I think I've seen is huge numbers of newcomers who moved here BECAUSE we were a boom town, and because they moved here they made it a boom town.

And we know what happens to Boomtowns.

I'm amazed that the leaders of this community can't see what's coming. All I can think is that they didn't live here 20 years ago when we had nothing but tourism, petty much, and it wasn't terribly lucrative.

Building up shopping malls and stores may obscure the basic weakness of the local economy, but in a way that makes even tougher for the locals. Ask yourself, if any of the people you know are part of the Growth industry.

As I said, everyone of them should be looking at that 27 housing starts and asking themselve, "What next?"

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