A strong local economy has been an important pursuit for Oregon Rural Action members since the organization’s founding. We are working to overcome the challenges faced by many rural communities which have for so long been dependent on resource-based export economies. By sustainably utilizing the resources we have and putting them to use in our own communities through diverse approaches, some innovative, some time-worn, we firmly believe that we can have strong rural economies and that all can share in the abundance.
Every dollar we spend has the power to influence our community. Whether we realize it or not, we are shaping the world we live in each time we make a purchase or pay for services. Oregon Rural Action members have joined countless others across the nation in prioritizing and promoting local products and services as a way to make sure money and resources stay within our communities. See some of the ways we’re buying and banking locally.
In the wake of the economic collapse in 2008-2009, a movement emerged to establish a bank that would be accountable to the citizens of Oregon, rather than Wall Street executives. As Jared Gardner, Co-Chair of Oregonians for a State Bank, put it, “We believe that the Oregon State Bank can play a large role in creating a more resilient local economy and getting credit flowing to small business and farmers.” Oregon Rural Action members played a strong role in the effort, and though it has not yet succeeded, it continues to pose a powerful option for our state’s financial investments.
In 2009 and 2010, we sponsored workshops at our annual meeting and in five counties in Eastern Oregon to utilize a community-based process for attaining short- and long-term sources of revenue and employment by identifying local resources, engaging local initiative and talent, and designing a locally endorsed and sponsored vision of community quality of life. This process is known as building community wealth and the ideas that emerged – as well as the new and surprising relationships – were inspiring.
Many local business owners choose to join Oregon Rural Action as business members. And many have gone beyond this to provide generous support with a number of projects and events by donating materials, auction items, and expertise. In turn, many ORA members make a point to do business with their fellow members, as another way of saying thanks.
A number of links to resources we recommend for working on behalf of strong local and rural economies, including organizations with whom we’ve partnered and others whose work we’ve admired and has shown benefit to us. See the Rural Economy Resources.