Representative Bruce Hanna: Jobs for Oregon

by Rep. Bruce Hanna (Co-Speaker of the House, R-Roseburg)

Yesterday afternoon, I testified before the House Revenue Committee in support of House Bill 4093.  I wrote and sponsored House Bill 4093 to allow local governments to create up to eight new “enterprise zones” and ten new “e-commerce zones,” areas designated to provide economic development incentives to attract businesses across the state.  I was pleased to see the Oregon Economic Development Association, the Association of Oregon Counties and the League of Oregon Cities testify in support of the bill during yesterday’s hearing.

Rural Lane and Douglas Counties have perpetually high unemployment that lingers well above ten-percent. Like much of rural Oregon, the communities I represent are desperately searching for ways to encourage economic development and incentivize business activity. Creating new jobs is truly the only way to solve the economic problems facing so many Oregon families.

Unemployment and reduced personal income not only impacts the quality of life for Oregonians, it also causes an increase in the need for government services while simultaneously handicapping the state’s ability to pay for such services.

The legislature has an obligation to provide Oregonians with solutions that enable them to create jobs – and we can do that through House Bill 4093. House Bill 4093 expands enterprise and e-commerce zone opportunities throughout Oregon. These zones have proven successful already – all I’m asking is that we allow a successful program to grow more legs.

HB 4093 would allow local governments – if they choose to do so – to implement new enterprise zones by expanding the overall number of authorized zones. Or, if a local region already has a zone that is successfully creating jobs, they can choose to expand that zone or allow the duration to continue. Both of these provide additional incentives for businesses to locate and grow in communities across Oregon.

In working with Business Oregon and the Office of  Legislative Revenue, we estimate that this bill alone could create 8,105 jobs in Oregon over the next five years. Those jobs would have an average wage of $37,000 per year and create more than $1.6 billion in personal income. That personal income would generate approximately $121.5 million in income tax revenue; more than enough to cover the cost of $700,000 to the state. This just makes sense.

I will be the first to say, however, that we don’t know as much as we should about why the program is successful, and so I would like to ensure that House Bill 4093 includes a requirement that Business Oregon report back to the Legislature on a regular basis about this program.

The bottom line is this: we need more jobs in Oregon, and the solution to getting them doesn’t need to be complicated, state-centric or expensive. We have proven mechanisms that encourage economic growth – and we can use those to create even more jobs for Oregonians who so desperately need them.

I’m pleased that House Bill 4093 was heard yesterday, but I sincerely hope the House Revenue Committee’s consideration of this common-sense economic development bill continues to move forward.  It’s time to let Oregon’s local communities get to work getting Oregonians back to work.