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We can create more opportunities

LININGERWhen I grew up in southern Oregon, our family had a rock-crushing and road-construction business. The deep recession of the 1980s hit our family business hard, as it did many others in the natural resource sector.  My dad describes that as a time that brought our family to its knees.

We learned from that deep recession that Oregon needs a diverse base of jobs so individuals and communities can adjust to our changing economy. That’s why I am focused on growing new employment sectors and increasing job opportunities in our state.  We have the chance to make important progress in the coming year.

First, we can help Oregon’s renowned food and beverage makers grow.  Producers of Oregon wine, beer, distilled spirits, cider, cheese, meat, seafood and other craft consumables are nationally acclaimed. In the Great Recession, these businesses grew while others contracted. By enabling these businesses to expand, we can help rural farmers, food processors, operators of boutique tasting rooms and hotels that serve our food and beverage tourists.

Last session, the Legislature took steps to help food makers invest in equipment and find skilled workers. As part of the House Committee on Small Business Growth, I am working with a team to find additional ways we can help these businesses grow and create jobs.

Second, we can invest to maintain and improve our transportation system. Oregon farmers and manufacturers need efficient channels to bring their goods to market. Parents need reliable means to get to work and pick up their kids from school.

In 2017, we have the chance to invest in transportation improvements to fix our roads and bridges, support alternatives to driving, strengthen our ports and improve safety for vehicles, bikes and pedestrians. This will create opportunity for small construction businesses like the one I grew up in. It will also strengthen our economic competitiveness as a region.

Third, we can continue growing Oregon’s clean energy economy. Last session, we increased our production goals for renewable energy and supported investment in the solar, biofuel and wind energy sectors. With careful monitoring, regulatory fine-tuning and strategic additional investment, Oregon can continue adding jobs in the clean energy space.

Fourth, we need to create a fair playing field so people who are willing to work hard can find and keep a job. As a working mother, I know that parents need advance notice of their schedules so they can arrange good child care. I will advocate to help workers have the advance notice they need. I will also push for supports so that working parents can afford high-quality care. Oregon families need both the dignity of work and the security of good child care.

Finally, we need training programs that help displaced workers return to the labor market. One of the scariest moments for our family in the deep recession of the 1980s was uncertainty; if our business went under, what would my dad do for work? Lots of us have suffered from downsizing or faced other abrupt changes that require us to get a new job.  In the coming year, I will push for strong technical training and college opportunities that enable workers who have been laid off, are re-entering the workforce after a divorce or child rearing or who are just starting out to train for good jobs.

I’d like to hear your ideas on steps we can take to grow jobs in Oregon. Please connect with us through our website, annlininger.org, or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Together, we can create opportunity for hard-working people across our state.

Ann Lininger is the state Representative for House District 38, which includes Lake Oswego and Southwest Portland.  A business lawyer, she lives in Lake Oswego with her husband and two children.