- Eye on Media
The other day, an upset Coos Bay Mayor Shoji attacked a State forecast for Coos County which predicted that by 2050, our population of 63,035 will decrease by 376 people. Her Honor vehemently disagreed because “Coos County is positioning for growth” thanks to recent investments in the hospital, the railroad, the airport and SWOCC.
All those “investments” were made by public entities, which rarely pay attention to profitability, customer demand, or their investments’ effects on economic growth, all of which tend to be negative. By now the railroad must have gobbled up $100 million, making it the Port’s biggest corporate-welfare-program ever, while blocking redevelopment of our derelict waterfront. The $30 million airport terminal is overbuilt and unneeded. As to the college – go check out its vacant, state-of-the-art theater. So, will these boondoggles produce growth?
Population forecasters study the past because it’s a fair predictor of the future; ask any credit bureau. And for over thirty years we’ve been buying boondoggles like the aforementioned, every one failing to bring prosperity. As a result, between 1980 and 2009, Coos County (excluding Bandon), lost 2,000 people while EVERY OTHER COUNTY in Western Oregon grew. Washington County doubled. Deschutes nearly tripled. Yamhill grew 72%, Jackson 56%. Even Curry and Douglas grew, by 26% and 12%. But Coos declined, so it’s not surprising that the State figured things would not change. But denial is a local river. Sounding desperate, the mayor warned that the State’s negative forecast may cause businesses not to invest in Coos County. In other words, nothing we do is our fault.
Which is true to a point, because the real culprits are the Job Messiahs at our dozen-and-a-half economic development offices: the Port, SCDC, FONSI, CCD-EDC, etcetera. They promised economic salvation, and delivered stagnation. Ignorant of Coos Bay’s real potential they chased one smokestack after another, always in vain. But it’s that constant threat of a smelter or pulp mill or steel mill rising on the North Spit that has prevented real growth. For the key to growth is not smokestacks but people. People with fresh ideas, money and some enterprise. People who have settled all over Western Oregon except in Coos Bay, which scares them.
All over my neighborhood I see abandoned houses. Home values are 25% less than they are in Florence or Bandon. You want growth? Close the Job-Messiahs offices, clear the obstacles to making this town attractive, and see what happens