Opportunities abound for the county's industrial workforce countyâ€šÃ„Ã´s industrial workforce
Columbia Countys greatest economic asset is its highly skilled workforce. These workers excel in manufacturing.
Fortunately, workers with experience in goods-producing industries a full 25 percent of the local workforce can find quality opportunities throughout the region. However, the bottom-line value of working locally, for residents and the community, is incomparable.
In Columbia County, there are unfilled openings for skilled workers at manufacturers, and the Columbia County Economic Team foresees a growing manufacturing sector that generates many more such opportunities for local residents in the future.
Manufacturing is a key industry here. It generates more wages than any other private-sector category $63 million in total payroll last year alone.
And local manufacturers need skilled employees today.
Manufacturing jobs range in scope from production operator to industrial engineering manager. In Columbia County, these positions pay, on average, $50,000 in annual wages, more than any other category.
At face value, these wages slightly trail Multnomah County, for example, by only $3,000 per year.
Switching to a local manufacturing job from a similar position located outside of your residential area, however, is like getting, on-average, a $12,500 pay raise when you factor the high cost of a long commute.
A 20-mile commute each way, at minimum, costs $5,500 per year in gas and car wear and tear. In terms of lost wages, the cost of time spent commuting averages almost $10,000 per year.
Yet, you almost cant put a price tag on the considerable loss of free time. For example, commuting 45 minutes to Portland each way eats up 7.5 hours per week, 375 hours per year. This grueling commute is the equivalent of nearly 10 extra weeks of vacation per year, time anyone would rather spend with their family or whatever else adds to their notion of the good life.
We both are fortunate to work locally and spend some of our free time in service to the community. Community groups Kiwanis, Rotary, Elks Club, Chambers of Commerce, for example are a big part of what makes Columbia County great.
We can only imagine what it would mean to the community if each group had 50 additional people volunteering one hour per week instead of commuting.
An on-shoring trend finally seems to be bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. after decades of decline. Rising productivity here, and increasing costs overseas, is leveling the playing field. This points to new opportunities for Columbia Countys skilled workforce, entrepreneurs and the community.
The Columbia County Economic Team is hearing from local manufacturers that they are being awarded new contracts. Contracts, it should be noted, formerly awarded to Chinese competitors.
Perhaps this explains, in part, why the Oregon Employment Department finds Columbia County manufacturers to have added 100-plus jobs in the last 12 months.
Regional and statewide economic development groups are working diligently to capitalize on on-shoring and new export opportunities to stimulate economic growth, and Columbia County is well positioned to participate in and take advantage of these strategies.
Our robust base of industrial sites, favorable business cost structure and access to markets means Columbia County is ripe with opportunity for entrepreneurs, the community and, most of all, Columbia Countys industrial grade workforce.
Learn about the manufacturing companies operating in Columbia County by visiting the Columbia County Economic Teams website at www.columbiacountyoregon.com, and discover job openings at www.worksourceoregon.org.
There are great opportunities in our own backyard.
Tony Hyde, Commissioner
Columbia County Economic Team
Jeff Kemp, CEO
Columbia County Economic Team