Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Usual Suspects.

The Oregon Business Magazine has an article entitled: "Bend's Economy Is Coming Back To Life."

Too bad they didn't have the smarts to put a question mark behind that title.

How do we know that Bend's economy is coming back to life? Because the real estate agents, and economic development people, and the city officials, and the new entreprenuers in town tell us so.

You know, the Usual Suspects.

Why on earth would they tell a reporter anything different?

From the first page, we get the usual B.S. A tone of --" the crash just all happened at once, who could have foreseen it? "is established, and the reporter -- who has apparently never heard these excuses repeated ad nauseam in the last three years, repeats it all with a straight face.

Did you know that aviation was supposed to be the diversifying element in Bend? Well, now that its gone, it turns out we were betting on it. Huh.

The reporter acknowledges that Bend topped the list of "most overvalued" property in the nation, but immediately dismisses it because of Bend's exceptionalism...

"...not take into account the value of the rapids of the Deschutes River flowing through downtown, or the view of the Sisters, Smith Rock, Mount Jefferson and more from the many available homes in the west side..."

Where have we heard that before? Proof is in the pudding. Housing prices DID drop precipitously, and somehow the river and the downtown and the rocks and the mountains didn't stop it from happening... (Besides which, there are many western towns with just as gorgeous of scenery -- I wonder if the reporter has ever visited, oh, you know -- Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and on and on. I think they have rivers and mountains, too.)

A series of small business start-ups are interviewed, and they put the best face on it all, as you would expect. (see comments in previous posts about what I think new startups mean...)

But mostly it's puffery, and I don't have the heart to go on.

P.R. isn't going to bring Bend back. It's just P.R.

Basically, the reporter could have just stayed home and written his article from Bend's press releases....


H. Bruce Miller said...

Spot on.

We have to remember that Oregon Business is in the business of selling ads, like virtually every other publication. And to whom does it try to sell ads? To Oregon businesses, including Bend businesses. And they don't like to see anything "negative" (i.e., honest and realistic) printed about them.

So no matter how many times the realistic and honest people are proven right, they'll continue to be dismissed as nattering nabobs of negativity and publications will seek out "the usual suspects" and treat their rosy scenarios as gospel.

H. Bruce Miller said...

Oh yeah -- and we're told that "the cloud" is going to revive Bend's economy because now a company can do business anywhere.

(Which, of course, has been possible ever since the invention of the Internet.)

It all sounds rather "vaporous" to me.

List of things Bend has going for it:

1. Pretty scenery.
2. Outdoor recreation.

List of things Bend has working against it:

1. No real four-year college.
2. No large highly educated and/or skilled workforce.
3. Poor, and deteriorating, public schools. (True of just about anyplace in Oregon.)
4. Geographical remoteness. (Still a factor despite "the cloud.")
5. Poor transportation links. (No Interstate, 20 miles from the nearest airport, no direct flights to any major cities except Portland and SF.)

All this wouldn't matter if our local "leaders" were content to let this place be what it's cut out to be -- a quiet little resort town -- but they've always had fantasies of turning it into a metropolis.

Anonymous said...

I for one am glad Bend is not blossoming into a corporate or tech hub. Always been a tough place to make a go at it. Don't see that changing.