Oregon business leaders convene in Bend

Yearly conference focuses on economic future

Ore. biz leaders in Bend for conference

BEND, Ore. - Funneling in from all over Oregon, business leaders are here in Bend to talk about our state's future.

Competitiveness will be a main theme of Thursday's Oregon Business Conference.

The keynote speaker, Craig Barrett, retired CEO of Intel, says he'll focus on how he believes education propels economic success.

"Oregon's got an okay K-12 school system, when you compare it to the rest of the U.S. The problem is when you compare it to foreign countries, we're lacking,"  Barrett said Wednesday evening.

Another speaker, Katie Klingensmith, an economic and policy strategist, flew in from California to help explain what national policies mean for Oregonians.

The yearly conference is where the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting organization unveils what they see happening in various business sectors, and what they expect for the coming year.

"They're statistical-based, they're as scientific as we can get, and over the past few years they've proven very good," said Dr. Bill Watkins, executive director for CERF.

According to Watkins, jobs are still lagging in Oregon. However, housing is a bright spot in this year's forecast.

"Home sales, and the types of homes that are selling are increasing. and we're seeing more higher-end homes being sold as opposed to lower-end," said Watkins.

Another hot topic: the business benefits from plans for a four-year college in Bend.

Barrett says that's something he supports as a key for the region's future economic vitality.

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