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Roadshow, Awards Kick-Start Manufacturing Month

OBI celebrated the start of Manufacturing Month with a full schedule of activities, beginning Oct. 2 with the annual Manufacturing and Innovation Roadshow and concluding Oct. 6 with a Manufacturing Day event highlighted by OBI’s inaugural Manufacturer of the Year Awards.

The Roadshow visited nine facilities and co-hosted three business roundtable events from Oct. 2-4. You can learn about the participating manufacturers here, but the policymakers, business leaders and others who joined experienced much more. They watched Tillamook’s enormous Cheddar Master machine produce cheese curds, drove big rigs on Daimler Truck North America’s test track and toured facilities producing aircraft, satellite components, wool products, distilled spirits and much more.

The Roadshow also brought business leaders and policymakers together in roundtable events to discuss the challenges Oregon’s employers face. Over and over again, from Pendleton to Bend to Salem, employers pointed to workforce shortages and training, regulatory expansion and complexity, housing affordability and Oregon’s tax structure. The input OBI gathered at these events and during facility tours will inform the next iteration of the Growth and innovation Roadmap, OBI’s legislative agenda for greater competitiveness and economic prosperity.

On Oct. 6, OBI celebrated National Manufacturing Day with an event that featured a panel discussion with industry leaders about the ways Oregon companies are evolving, competing and leading. The event also honored this year’s Manufacturers of the Year: Epic Aircraft (innovation), Radius Recycling (environmental sustainability) and the Tillamook County Creamery Association (workforce and community impact).

OBI thanks the sponsors and participating manufacturers that made last week’s activities a success. We’d also like to thank the business leaders, elected officials and others who joined the Roadshow and participated in the National Manufacturing Day event.

Finally, it’s not too soon to begin thinking about the 2024 Manufacturing and Innovation Roadshow, either as a sponsor or a participant. We can’t promise that you’ll get to watch the Cheddar Master or drive an 18-wheeler. But you’ll have fun, learn a lot and have an opportunity to share your concerns with policymakers.


Coolest Thing Made in Oregon Contest Down to Final Four

OBI and partner Here is Oregon are celebrating manufacturers in 2023 with the inaugural Coolest Thing Made in Oregon contest, a bracket-style competition that kicked off with the selection of 16 finalists.

Following two rounds of public voting, the list of contenders has been cut to four:

• A-dec’s 500 Dental Chair
• Aero Teardrops’ The Steel Camper
• Freres Engineered Wood’s Mass Ply Panels
• Leatherman’s FREE P4 Multi-tool

Voting for this semifinal round will end Oct. 10, at noon, and voting for the final round will begin on Wednesday, Oct. 11. The winner will be announced at OBI’s Oct. 25 Vision Oregon Event.


Vision Oregon Event Will Highlight Artificial Intelligence

Are you excited, worried or just curious about artificial intelligence and the opportunities the technology might create for your business?

If so, register now for OBI’s 2023 Vision Oregon Event, which will feature a keynote address by futurist Steve Brown. He will share some of what businesses should know if they want to survive and thrive in the artificial intelligence era. Brown, who has worked for Intel and for Google’s DeepMind initiative, has called artificial intelligence the biggest transformation since the development of the internet.

Following his keynote address, Brown will moderate a panel discussion involving business leaders who will share their experiences with this transformation. Panelists include:

Dan Drinkward, vice president, Hoffman Construction Company
Graciela Gomez Cowger, chief executive officer, Schwabe
Mariah Robbins, vice president for global people and operations, A-dec

The event also will feature the presentation of this year’s Oregon Visionary Award to the Families First Childcare Center and the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC R&D). Learn more about this year’s honorees here.

The Vision Oregon Event also will crown the winner of the inaugural Coolest Thing Made in Oregon contest, a partnership with Here is Oregon to celebrate the state’s vibrant and innovative manufacturing sector.

Register here.


Policy and Rulemaking Update

From Sept. 27-29, the Legislature held informational hearings about many timely issues, including those that may receive action during the upcoming session, which will be held in February 2024. Below are a handful of Legislative Days highlights:

Measure 110: Two legislative committees held hearings on Ballot Measure 110, which decriminalized the possession of small amounts of hard drugs. The Senate Judiciary Committee held an informational hearing about the measure’s implementation and the ways in which it is helping to combat addiction. That committee was then briefed about the substantial barriers the measure imposes on police and local governments trying to remove once-illegal drugs from Oregon’s streets. The House Committee on Behavioral Health and Health Care also was briefed on the measure’s implementation. Meanwhile, House Speaker Dan Rayfield and Senate President Rob Wagner announced a Joint Interim Committee on Addiction and Community Safety Response. That committee will meet monthly to develop proposals to increase public safety, including proposals related to Measure 110. OBI is working to ensure that the business community’s interests are considered.

Paid Leave Oregon: The Oregon Employment Department believes additional clarifying legislation is needed to prevent the stacking of leave programs, despite a bill passed earlier this year. During the 2023 legislative session, OBI and other employer groups fought to better align Paid Leave Oregon with the Oregon Family Leave Act through the passage of SB 999. That bill included a provision intended to ensure workers could not stack their leave benefits by taking OFLA and subsequently taking Paid Leave Oregon. The department believes there is an issue with this law that requires further legislative action. The good news is that the department says it knows how to fix the stacking issue, and the Senate Labor and Business Committee chair says that fix can be made during the 2024 session.

Clean Trucks Rules: Businesses have expressed concerns for months about the limited availability of heavy-duty trucks available for purchase in response to the Department of Environmental Quality’s 2021 Clean Trucks rules. On Sept. 29, DEQ briefed more than 230 stakeholders about several changes to its original plan. Many questions remain. For now, however, we know that the low-nitrogen oxide diesel engine portion of the rule will be delayed one year, from January 2024 to January 2025, to ease inventory concerns. Additionally, DEQ intends to align other rules associated with a heavy-duty electric truck sales mandate with California’s revised rules, which will be adopted in December. DEQ then will initiate rulemaking for the Environmental Quality Commission’s action by May 2024. The delay is certainly good news. However, the quick rulemaking turnaround suggests that DEQ probably intends to adopt California’s revised rules.

Transportation Revenue: The Joint Committee on Transportation met Sept. 29 to hear updates on several issues. The state economist reported on the cost allocation study, which assesses revenue from vehicle classes relative to their impact on the transportation system. Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles continue to shoulder a disproportionate cost burden, a worrisome and worsening trend. Meanwhile, the popularity of fuel-efficient, hybrid and electric vehicles has contributed to shortfalls in transportation revenue, which is generated in large part by fuel taxes. Focusing on road usage, the Oregon Transportation Commission is trying to figure out how to collect more revenue without disincentivizing the adoption of low-emissions vehicles. The Legislature is likely to take this up in 2025.


Notable News

PERS Fund Losses: Weak performance over the past two years by state Public Employees Retirement System investments has contributed $8 billion to the system’s unfunded lability over the next 20 years, The Oregonian reports. The unfunded liability is now $28 billion. Unless investments rebound sharply and eliminate the gap, public agencies will have to contribute more to the system, reducing funds available for other uses.

Holvey Recall: A union-driven attempt to recall Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, failed badly, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports.

Housing Supply: Bend and Redmond say proposed groundwater rules sought by the Oregon Water Resources Department would make development of housing difficult and work against a push by the governor and others to build more affordable housing, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports. In related news, Gov. Kotek and the co-chairs of her Housing Production Advisory Council are targeting the 2024 session for legislation that would accelerate home construction, the Oregon Capital Chronicle reports.

Salem Payroll Tax: Only 29% of those who participated in an online survey conducted by the Salem Reporter said they’d support the city’s payroll tax, whose fate voters will decide in November.

Portland Office Foreclosure: A lender is foreclosing on a loan tied to the Montgomery Park office complex in Portland, which is the third largest office building in the metro area, the Portland Business Journal reports. The building’s owners bought the complex in 2019 for $255 million and owe lenders $149.7 million.


There’s Still Time to Register for Paid Leave Oregon Webinar

It’s not too late to sign up for an Oct. 19 webinar during which Paid Leave Oregon staff will provide program updates and answer questions.

Oregon’s paid family and medical leave insurance program started taking applications from employees on Aug. 14, and benefits began Sept. 3. Because the program is in its infancy, employers still have many questions.

Click here to register.


Save the Date: NEBC Business & The Environment Conference

OBI is a sponsor of the Northwest Environmental Business Council’s 2023 Business & The Environment Conference, which will take place from Dec. 5-6 in Portland.

The conference will highlight several topics, including the changing rural energy landscape, redeveloping brownfields, regulatory updates for environmental professionals, and trending topics such as artificial intelligence.

The conference’s keynote speaker will be federal Rural Utility Service Administrator Andrew Berke. Many regulators will participate as well, including Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Director Leah Feldon.

Go here to learn more.