Stimulus, Science and the Oregon Recovery

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By Ken Niezgoda,
BIZ Reporter

President Barack Obama promised to elevate science to play a key role in the nation’s recovery. While the economic impact of this pledge is still taking shape as stimulus dollars trickle down, the impact of science on Oregon’s economy can be assessed through several key reports.

Obama Pushes Health Care and Renewable Energy Agenda

“We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories,” said Obama in his inaugural address. The pledge reflects a philosophy long-embraced in Oregon.

Oregon Historically Connects with Renewable Energy

“We can make Oregon the national leader in renewable energy and renewable product manufacturing,”  announced Governor Ted Kulongoski in 2003. “Development of renewable energy will lessen our reliance on fossil fuels, protect Oregon’s clean air and create jobs.”

The subsequent Oregon Renewable Energy Action Plan estimated in 2005 “A net increase of 1,250 new jobs with each $100 million investment in renewable energy resources.”

Oregon Tax Credits Impact Economy

Effects of Oregon’s long-term focus on energy is reflected in a recent report released by the Oregon Department of Energy, which describes the economic benefit of the Oregon’s Business and Residential Energy Tax Credit (BETC and RETC) programs. According to the report, 1,706 new jobs were created and Oregon’s economic output increased by $575.7 million over the past two years as a result of the programs.

Report Documents Impact of Bioscience in Oregon

The Oregon Bioscience Association reported that health and other biosciences contributed significantly to Oregon’s economy in 2007. According to the report, bioscience industries generated “$3.5 billion in output or economic activity, including $800 million in personal income and over 13,630 jobs.”

The report, titled “The Dimensions and Contributions of the Bioscience Industry in Oregon”, noted that between 2002 and 2007 the growth rate of Oregon’s bioscience industries exceeded Oregon’s overall growth significantly.