Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bend is 'poverty with a view'

From the Oregonian:

This city in Oregon's scenic high desert once had one of the nation's hottest economies. Resort developers, bankers, construction workers and luxury car dealers rushed for a piece of the action.
Now some locals call Bend "poverty with a view."

The county it anchors, Deschutes, shows some of the most serious recession pain in the land, as measured by The Associated Press Economic Stress Index.
The county ranked fourth this spring among American counties of more than 25,000 people in a measurement of the yearly rise in the AP index. The index measures unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies at the county level across the nation -- the higher the index's number for a county, the worse the recession's impact...

Michael Hollern, chairman of Brooks Resources Corp., the region's largest developer, said the Bend boom coincided with the one in the Sun Belt. Brooks once owned the massive Brooks Scanlon Lumber Company, which was founded in 1915 and basically built Bend.
The building boom began gradually in the 1960s and took off seriously a few years ago. "We thought we were different, special, with real jobs and real people.
It turns out we weren't that different. And we realized prices were out of touch with reality. Now we need to work off our excesses."
Much of the work force is still around, he said. The quality of life is off the charts, and few people want to leave.
"Where are they going to go? Hollern said. "Conditions are the same everywhere. There seems to be a sense that it is better to be unemployed in Bend than in other places."

The article is more of a story than a business article so I'd recommend reading the entire thing.