Focus on business is welcome

A year after being elected Oregon attorney general, John Kroger would like to talk about the successes he's had since taking office. But that wasn't at the top of his agenda when he visited Roseburg earlier this month.

He had another topic on his mind — the future of Oregon's economy.

"We don't have our act together regarding economic development," he told The News-Review's Editorial Board. "This state needs a well-crafted strategy and without one, we will pay the price."

Kroger wants to see an economic strategy become a major part of the debate in Oregon's gubernatorial race. He contends that we can talk all we want about improving education, public safety and health care for Oregon residents, but if we don't create jobs and stimulate our economy, the state won't advance.

While creating a more robust economy isn't a primary focus of his office, he sees a need to get involved.

"Everyone in state government has to help or we won't move the state forward," he said.

He's getting his office involved by assigning one of the lawyers in the Department of Justice to develop a business start-up kit. It's expected to explain all of the rules and regulations that an entrepreneur would need to know to create a new business in Oregon.

Kroger said he discovered no such item existed and it's a definite need for those trying to navigate all the complex requirements. Such a guide could make Oregon more friendly to new businesses and give small businesses a better chance at survival.

It's unfortunate the state's economic development department hadn't already prepared such a kit, but it appears that department, now called Business Oregon, is trying a new approach to help existing Oregon companies succeed. It recently added a tool called The Northwest Connectory to its Web site,, which is supposed to help companies connect with potential business partners and customers.

In speaking at the Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce lunch forum, Kroger acknowledged how important it is to support small businesses because they are going to be creating the jobs in the next few years. Douglas County Commissioner Susan Morgan has said the same — it's the small businesses that have pulled Oregon out of its past recessions and she expects that to be the case with this recession.

Unfortunately, the state already missed an opportunity to not only help some local businesses but also our forests. Kroger said he thought more federal stimulus dollars should have gone toward thinning the overgrown forests on public lands.

That would have helped put people to work in our area, as well as other rural parts of the state that have suffered greatly during the current recession.

We appreciate Kroger's recognition of the missed opportunity and we hope others in state government will be compelled to develop an economic strategy that works. Such a plan must consider the needs of all parts of the state, not just the Portland metropolitan area.

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