Oregon Business & Industry celebrated jobs, employers, businesses, companies and Oregon’s economy at the 2019 Annual Meeting on Tuesday.
The event culminated in honoring Sen. Betsy Johnson with the first Jobs Champion Award.
“I don’t think there’s a stronger advocate for working men and women of the state than Sen. Johnson,” said Rich White, who presented the award on behalf of Boeing and OBI.
“The people in this room represent the economic heartbeat of Oregon,” Sen. Johnson said to more than 200 attendees at the Salem Convention Center. “I salute you for your commitment to job creation, recruitment and retention.”
Celebrating workers carried to statements from Scott Parrish, OBI board chair, and CEO and president of A-dec. which manufactures dental equipment in Newberg. The family company was founded by Ken Austin, who passed away last week, and his wife, Joan. Parrish said the founders’ pride in their 1,000-plus employees stands true today.
“We have a phenomenal workforce that shares our beliefs and A-dec creates the best damn equipment in the world,” Parrish said, noting the benefits of those jobs go beyond the company to the community by creating thousands of indirect jobs. “That’s how it works. Manufacturing jobs are the foundation of any healthy economy.”
Gov. Kate Brown took note of the importance of a highly trained workforce. Though her keynote address covered legislative priorities, she touched on the impact of career technical education (CTE) in keeping students involved and getting them to graduation with a plan for their future careers.
“Kids get excited about the work. It makes their education relevant and they want to stay in the classroom,” she said, listing programs including culinary arts, building tiny homes, programming unmanned aerial vehicles and more. “Career technical ed works.”
Tuesday’s event also included a legislative panel and business leader panel. The legislative panel was made up of House Speaker Tina Kotek, Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger and Sen. Arnie Roblan. The business panel was made up of Henry Balensifer, LEKTRO Inc., Lori Olund, Miles Fiberglass and Composites, Chad Paulson, Blount International, and Lee Weber, ATI.
OBI took a moment to celebrate one of its own at Tuesday’s event. President and CEO Sandra McDonnough recognized Jackie Haugen, assistant to the president, for 33 years of service to the organization. Haugen will retire this summer.
Speaking to OBI’s role in the state, McDonough disputed the notion of a fractured business community. She said she has found an “army of colleagues” at other business associations who are committed to working together to demonstrate why a strong business sector is key to a prosperous Oregon economy.
“We can and will speak with one voice when it comes to advocating for a healthy business community – in every corner of our state, rural and urban. Big companies and small businesses. Manufacturing and service companies,” she said. “It’s all important, because it’s about growing jobs for Oregonians. That’s why we are here.”
OBI would like to thank sponsors of the Annual Meeting: A-dec, Nike, The Pape Group, Union Pacific, Boeing and Cambia Health Solutions.