By Sen. RICK METSGER, State District 26
Special to the News
As you are aware, Gov. Ted Kulongoski was in Hood River Jan. 29. I extended an invitation to the Governor to visit the Gorge along with Representative Patti Smith.
Less than a week after our invitation, he accepted and we enjoyed a wonderful day in the Gorge. Oregon is facing many challenges right now, and I wanted the governor to see some of the economic struggles in Hood River.
There is universal agreement that getting Oregonians back to work is the most effective way to improve our economy and protect the valuable public services we all demand. That is why this trip was so intently focused on economic development and job creation.
The decision by the governor to visit Hood River demonstrates that early in his tenure, he is willing to engage our rural communities in an effort to ensure that all Oregonians have opportunities to prosper. We organized a series of meetings and visits that showed the governor a microcosm of key industries in the state.
The governor was able to see the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities facing Hood River and Oregon. We also spent time meeting with local business and civic leaders in an effort to better understand how the state of Oregon can help our communities to thrive. It was particularly notable that the governor brought his senior officials from his administration with him, including the Director of the Department of Agriculture and the Director of the Department of Economic and Community Development. This trip provided important context for the decisions the governor will make in the months ahead.
As we return to Salem, our next challenge is to translate the lessons and experiences of this trip into concrete action to get Oregon’s economy moving. This will include developing new markets for our agricultural products, streamlining government regulation, promoting tourism, recruiting new businesses to settle in Oregon, and investing in infrastructure projects like roads and bridge repair that create living wage jobs.
As Chairman of the Senate Economic Development and Transportation Committee, I will be working closely with the Kulongoski administration to get Oregonians back to work. The road to economic recovery in Oregon will pass through my committee, Rep. Smith’s committee, and the governor’s desk. That is why this trip was so critical and why it is imperative that we continue to work together.