Gov. John Kitzhaber paid a visit to Bend Thursday, stopping by the Breedlove Guitars factory and NeighborImpact's affordable housing complex, where he signed a state proclamation supporting community action organizations.
"I saw a 'hiring now' sign in Bend on the way in yesterday, which is very refreshing," Kitzhaber said. "I'm confident it's still going to be slow, but we're definitely making progress."
The governor and First Lady Cylvia Hayes kicked off their tour with with a behind the scenes look at Breedlove Guitars, and saw the work that goes into making the instruments.
"As the owner of an old Martin guitar, I was stunned at the amount of work and detail that go into these," said Kitzhaber. "I mean, these are just stunning instruments."
Kitzhaber congratulated the small business on their expansion move into a bigger factory and hiring more employees. They also use Oregon wood to build the impressive instruments.
"One of the challenges in the economy is keeping the dollars circulating through the economy, through local sources and building local supply chains," said the governor.
Breedlove owner Tom Bedell said he was glad to have his success recognized.
"It's not just having a factory or business here, it's just being a part of the whole life in Oregon," Bedell said.
After the guitar tour, the group moved onto NeighborImpact's affordable housing complex, Healy Heights. Hayes talked about her Poverty and Prosperity Initiative to a group of community organization leaders.
"I'm passionate about this," Hayes said. "I think Oregon is just way too rich in natural resources and human ingenuity to have one of the highest hunger and poverty rates in the nation."
NeighborImpact officials were pleased to be recognized for their work and goals.
"We can't continue to say a third of our children and a third of the people in our community are not worthwhile," said Executive Director Sharon Miller.
To honor local organizations, the governor signed a proclamation marking May as Community Action Month.
"Failure to address poverty, costs the state about $2 billion a year," Kitzhaber said. "That's in health care costs for poor nutrition and kids who get behind in their education because they're too hungry to learn. So it's an economic issue and a human issue."
On Friday, Kitzhaber will be in Prineville, touring the Facebook data center and Northwest Signs.