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- Central Oregonian - News
Thoughts from Bill Schaffer, Publisher of the Central Oregonian:
A bittersweet time: a chance for change
The "best of times" is coming
There may be a parallel between the first words Charles Dickens wrote in the "Tale of Two Cities" and the state of affairs in Prineville today. Dickens wrote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." For those families losing their jobs or closing businesses it is the "worst of times" and nothing can be done to soften the financial or emotional impact.
On the other hand, Prineville is at a remarkable cross roads and taking the right turn could lead us to our "best of times". We have strong businesses (BiMart and Troutman's Emporium) making substantial investments in our community to provide much needed goods and services. We have businesses (like Morgan's, Checkers, Price Slasher and others) upgrading and improving their properties.
City and county leaders are setting a strong pace toward fixing a multitude of problems. With the fresh ideas and good working relationship between the two bodies I believe we can expect great things from local government.
The Our Town committee of the Prineville - Crook County Chamber of Commerce has just completed a survey of the attitudes and expectations of county residents. I've seen early results and was impressed with the positive attitude and the confidence the respondents have in the future of Prineville. This may be an indication that Prineville's silent resistance to change may be stepping aside and that a new wave of progress is moving into position to pull Prineville out of the 20th century into a progressive new mood for the 21st century. Lets hope so.
Another indicator is the excellent response the Our Town committee received on their questionnaire. We wrapped the questionnaire around the second section of the Central Oregonian a few weeks ago and hoped we'd get a hundred responses. There were 241 responses! That's over a five percent return, which is phenomenal for a questionnaire like this.
The Central Oregonian has recently started talking to community leaders about putting together an economic summit to work toward bringing new businesses to Prineville. I think this could be a very important next step in rebuilding our economic base.
To me this indicates that Prineville, while suffering some setbacks, may be on the verge of making the turn toward the "best of times."
and from Diane Bohle, Executive Director of the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce:
Sunrise, Sunset: The Changing Face of Business in Prineville
It looks like unexpected change is here to stay. The face of business continues to change in Prineville. The last six months have been telling. When businesses close, our economic and commercial stability is tossed into the air. It is not easy to replace a business that has spent years of accumulating good will, or find another business that supports families by providing good jobs in the community.
What is remembered? The generosity of Prineville Hardware; the contributions of McCarthy's Hardware; the convenience of Rim Rock Rentals; the traditions and service of Oregon Stationary, and the historic reliability of providing solid jobs by Ochoco Lumber. These businesses have all spent a lot of time dodging bolts of lightning.. from trying to compete with volume pricing, fielding rising costs, battling out-of-town shopping habits---to trying to keep a mill open without a reliable supply of logs from public lands.
With the announcement of a major employer such as Ochoco Lumber closing, you could say that the whole town has been in a state of denial. The unthinkable happened. The impact on our community is real and hard. When any business closes it leaves a hole in the heart of the community. History seems to stop, leadership is lost and our life changes. The changes in the lives of the owners and employees of these businesses will be hard, as lives are thrown up in the air and the pieces haven't landed yet. Because we are a community and we are all in this together.
Change generates many feelings: sadness, fear, excitement, and surprise. Our established businesses are rooted in familiar, traditional values of service and knowledge of the community. Our new businesses promise to give us new choices. It is important to realize that there is an essential connection between "old" businesses and "new" businesses in our community. Taking an optimistic view, a combination of the familiar and the new promises a different look and feel of the business community. What we can hope for is "hybrid vigor" - that unexpected cross that will create a strong, resilient business community that retains the hometown character that defines who we are as a community.
It is worth keeping in mind, - indeed it is worth harping on - that the vitality of our business community comes down to the choices that each one of us makes on a daily basis. For example, it demands changing firmly rooted shopping habits. I encourage you to renew your commitment to our business community. Teach your children the value of supporting your hometown. Purchase in Prineville first. Volunteer an hour a month in our community. Take 20 minutes and write a letter to your congressional delegation on issues that impact jobs and the community. Reject all stereotypes. Be proud to say where you live. And finally, don't take for granted that local businesses can survive without your support. We can't. We need you