Economic Vitality

The Economic Vitality Action Team

Perspective of the Economic Vitality Action Team

All Corvallis residents value a healthy local economy. To achieve a sustainable high quality of life, our local economy must be vibrant, resilient, regenerative, and inclusive. These features are a lot to ask of an economy, especially given the complexity and hazy boundaries of today’s local economies.

Because of these complexities, and the desire to establish an overarching vision for the local economy, The Economic Action Team developed an initial set of agreements – principles that can serve as rallying points for developing the Corvallis economy to meet our needs and the needs of our ecological systems as this new millennium unfolds. In our first effort, we have identified seven agreements.

1.    Demographic Diversity
We desire demographic diversity.  The goal is to be multi-generational and to have the variety of knowledge and experiences associated with a diversity of cultures and races.  We want a population size that fits within the setting of Corvallis, and we want an even distribution of ages from young to old in our population.  We are interested in retaining more of our students as they grow to adults seeking high-quality jobs and a good life.

2.    Available Jobs and Meaningful Work
We desire a sufficient quantity of jobs that provide varied opportunities for people who want to live and work in Corvallis.  We want a mix of job types with a range of required skills.  We are committed to increasing both our capacity to produce needed goods and services locally and the jobs that accompany that capacity.  We want to ensure that Corvallis jobs provide a living wage for workers, and we want to work on removing barriers (e.g., health insurance costs) that prevent people from starting businesses or shifting to jobs they might prefer.  We want to maintain flexible working hours and practices, and we want to ensure that everyone who is willing to work has an opportunity to do so.

3.    Recognition of Limits to Growth
We recognize that physical and natural limits to economic growth exist, and that the economy has become overly dependent on continuously increasing consumption of goods and services.  Technological progress can alleviate some conflicts between economic growth and ecological health, but it can’t serve as a substitute for direct management of the scale of the economy with respect to the ecosystem.  We want to consider and confront local physical and natural limits, including those associated with infrastructure, natural systems, and energy availability.  At the local scale, we want prudent zoning policies and densities.  We also want to think globally and take into account how our economic activities contribute to global limits.  We are interested in measurements of sustainable scale, such as the ecological footprint.

4.    Local Production and Consumption
We recognize that Corvallis can’t be an “oasis” by outsourcing dirty industry – we need to help transform dirty industries into clean economic activity.  We want to be a model for other communities by having balanced trade and ensuring that our trading partners are working toward true sustainability.  We envision a community that values skills, trades, and crafts.

5.    Sufficient Infrastructure
We desire public and private infrastructure in Corvallis that supports the sustainable economic and leisure activities in which we are engaged. We envision maintaining a stock of affordable housing. We want to make an energy transformation away from fossil fuels sourced from afar to a locally controlled renewable energy provision and distribution system. We envision safe, reliable, enjoyable and efficient transportation systems and other supporting infrastructure that allow businesses, households and individuals to flourish.

6.    Congruent Culture and Governance
We desire an economy that is congruent with a culture of sustainability and a local government that matches. We envision an economy that promotes healthy relationships among participants and de-emphasizes the consumerism that characterizes the current economic system. We want governmental policies and ordinances that provide incentives for sustainability and quality of life.

7.    Proactive Transition
We recognize that the economy of the next 30 years will be very different from that of the last 30 years; the “rules of the game” have changed, and we may encounter difficulties trying to forecast from recent trends. We envision increasing local food production, processing, and distribution.  We want to minimize our exposure to risk by phasing out our economic dependence on risky material and energy resources (e.g., fossil fuels that are rapidly depleting and causing profound pollution problems).

The Economic Vitality Action Team has developed some ambitious goals and actions outlined in the newly revised Economic Vitality section of Community Sustainability: A Framework for Action — soon to be published by the Sustainability Coalition. Take a look at the Economic Vitality vision, goals, strategies, and actions here:
Economic Vitality 2013: A Framework for Action

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