Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Serious Town

Tourism is a minimum wage job.

A massive waterpark -- if it ever gets built, which I doubt -- would create a bunch of minimum wage jobs, give off the whiff of loosey goosey that we don't really need more of in this area.

We need a serious effort for serious jobs.

This blog entry is just a bit of holding people's feet to the fire for what they've said was going to happen; the bookstore in N.Y. that I thought was so overblown didn't open in Sept. like they said, in fact they have the entry about choosing their logo still up. (Choosing their logo as the most important thing to write about the month before 'opening' is exactly the wrong kind of focus. Not to mention, of the logos they actually showed, they picked the most boring.)

The other bookstore I wrote about, is still looking for his 2 million in financing -- talk about not being serious.

(I'm not mentioning their names, though you can find them in previous posts. I say I want to hold their feet to the fire -- but really, I don't want to hurt their feelings.)

The city is laying off more people -- going into the downtime. I mean, if we are already hurting and we have Oct., Nov. Jan. Feb. March. April. and May to look forward too, we've got problems. Same for any stores. I thinking we're skating on thin ice, and there may be some plunging and splashing about to happen, and no rope to throw them.

Here's where I contradict myself. Downtown is bustling, I must say, though the last week has been pretty slow. My business has stayed a bit stronger than I expected, and I've come to the conclusion that the population rise in Bend over the last decade is now coming along the create a solid enough ice sheet under my store to keep it viable. Then again, my store doesn't weigh much.

As if to warn of thin ice, the unemployment rate was a splash of cold water. Which is as it should be. We needed a splash about now...there was just too much thinking it was getting better and better. At the same time that my customers tell me -- there just aren't any jobs to be had. Again, that ain't going to get better in the off season.

I've always thought we had at least another year of depression era economy in Bend, and even at the end of next summer, the gains will be marginal. We may technically start to beat last year in sales, but I'm not sure I'd call that a 'recovery.'


blackdog said...

"We need a serious effort for serious jobs."

Couldn't agree more. But let's get down to specifics. What would these "serious jobs" be? What industries/businesses that provide significant numbers of "serious jobs" would want to locate in Bend, Ory-gun, a spot in the middle of nowhere with no particular resources to speak of?

We have been trying since I arrived here more than 24 years ago (and probably long before that) to attract those "serious jobs," and our success to date has been just about zilch.

Real "serious" cities with a lot more to offer than Bend has are having trouble attracting "serious" jobs these days. What makes us think we can?

I think we have to finally give up the fantasy of becoming a big city. 80,000 is not a sustainable population for this town. We were able to sustain it temporarily because of the real estate bubble and accompanying construction boom, but that's over and it ain't coming back. Since the mills closed this has been, and always will be, a tourist and retirement town. We cannot sustain a population of 80,000 on those industries. I don't know what the sustainable number would be -- it would take some heavy research and analysis to find out. 50,000 maybe.

rotorman said...

Serious jobs come when the business climate is right. OR, as a whole, has not been good about creating the right climate. The tax foundation ranks OR 14th for business climate taxation. That doesn't sound bad except that compared to the previous year they are going the wrong way. Raising taxes during recession is about the dumbest thing you can do.

RDC said...

You need to hope that it can sustain 75-80k because if it were to drops back to 50,000 you will see houses going for 10k each. Even relatively small population drops have significant down side pressure. Look up the history of places that have had substantial drops in population, like Midland Texas during the late 80's oil crash.

blackdog said...

"You need to hope that it can sustain 75-80k because if it were to drops back to 50,000 you will see houses going for 10k each."

Maybe so, but "hoping" won't make it happen.

Okay, maybe we should try to sustain at 70,000-80,000, but definitely not aim for higher. We already have way too much housing stock for the present population.

blackdog said...

rotorman: There's a lot more to "the right climate" than low taxes.

blackdog said...

A waterpark in Bend makes as much sense as a golf course in Antarctica.

tim said...

'rotorman: There's a lot more to "the right climate" than low taxes.'

Low taxes is important, but you're right. I think #1 on the list is predictability. A business can't plan if rules change.

blackdog said...

Looking out of my windows this morning (Oct. 4) and seeing three inches of snow on the ground, I have to wonder if Bend even has much of a future as a retirement mecca. Most people don't want to retire to a place where the winter lasts from October through May.

You can try to spin it any way you want, but the bottom line is Bend is a boring little town in the middle of nowhere with a shitty climate. And its dreams of greatness are just that -- dreams.