The Extension Community Vitality Working Group helps you understand how your local economy and populations have changed in recent decades and what might be new economic opportunities for your community. We do applied studies on such things as the economic contribution of particular industries in your county or region, and how well positioned your labor force is to fill future jobs in your county. We also provide selected program evaluation services.
Community Economists Bruce Sorte and Mallory Rahe specialize in economic impact analyses. Recent projects include measuring the economic impact of childcare in Oregon, policy change on local businesses, and critical habitat designation in agricultural production areas. See their reports at: http://ruralstudies.oregonstate.edu/publications.htm. They meet with community leaders and organizations across the state to help them better understand the current economy and develop policies and programs for the future. In addition, Bruce Sorte is a regular columnist for several small town Oregon newspapers and he often appears as a guest on radio call-in shows.
Economist Yong Chen has examined retail trade patterns for 12 types of businesses in each county in Oregon. Specific sectors include building materials, food retail stores and
health services. See his report at http://ruralstudies.oregonstate.edu/retail-trade-analysis. He is also studying the impacts of national policies on small Oregon communities, particularly timber-dependent towns, and how coastal communities might reduce their economic vulnerability to future tsunamis.
Social Demographer Lena Etuk specializes in community assessment, program evaluation, and survey research. Recent projects include evaluating the individual, organizational, and community impact of a rural leadership development program, surveying Tillamook County and Wallowa County residents about the vitality of their communities, and evaluating the impact of a riparian area assessment and management education program on landowners/managers, the extent of collaborative resource management within communities, and the quality of riparian areas.
In addition, the Community Vitality Working Group has created a suite of useful websites to provide you with relevant and easy-to-use data on communities in Oregon
Rural Communities Explorer
The Rural Communities Explorer is a web-based information portal serving the 723 named places and 36 counties in Oregon. Users of the Rural Communities Explorer can access: indicators of community vitality; community profiles comprised of demographic, social, economic, and environmental metrics; and related community-specific spatial data, relevant reports and documents, news articles, maps, and photos from the library archives and other sources. The RCE contact is Vince Adams and the tool is available online at http://oregonexplorer.info/rural/.
Oregon Regional Economic Analysis Project (OR-REAP)
The OR-REAP site allows users to compare trends in population, total employment, employment by industry, and income over the past 40 years in any county with national and state trends. Interactive choices allow users to access not only data but regional analysis tools and text which provide easy to understand trends and comparisons. Access the data at http://oregon.reaproject.org/ and contact Mallory Rahe with questions or comments.
Oregon County Monitor
To help counties track the progress of economic recovery and the reach of the social safety net, we have developed the Oregon County Monitor. A handy summary of county-level trends since January 2008, the Monitor gathers indicators on jobs and business conditions, and the use of social safety net programs providing cash, food and housing assistance. The Monitor effort has been led by Rich Sandler and you can find the Monitor at: http://osu.prognoz.com/.