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Ashland Oregon Chamber of Commerce / Your Business / ASHLAND ECONOMY

2013Economy

Ashland and the Rogue Valley

A vibrant tourism sector and established higher education core form the basis of Ashland’s economy. Ashland has a number of high-performing businesses who are leaders in their industry.  These businesses range from technology innovators to specialty manufacturers, food and beverage producers to artisans. Many incorporate green and sustainable practices and have re-ceived statewide accolades for their accomplishments. Light manufacturing firms boast a number of global businesses while home-based businesses grow with the support of excellent fiber connectivity giving Ashland a reputation for cultivating successful, dynamic and leading-edge companies.  

Southern Oregon University located in Ashland with over 6,500 students and faculty and administration numbering over 750 is Ashland’s largest employer of approximately $48 million a year.  Total annual revenue of the University exceeds $100 million. This sets the stage for a highly educated workforce and population, an engaged citizenry and knowledgeable public. Ashland Community Hospital is Ashland’s third largest employer with 400 employees and paying the largest average wage in the City with total wages over $25 million annually.

Retail in Ashland is run by mainly independently-owned businesses offering unique products both in-store and online. A creative culture fosters over 80 restaurants, micro-breweries, wineries, numerous galleries, unique shops, music and theater cultivated by being the home of the 78 year old world-class Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  In 2012, OSF sold 392,430 tickets at 87% capacity. In addition to the businesses related to the cultural scene, are those in the business of year-round outdoor recreation. These include the providers of recreation services as well as product manufacturers. Ashland is a town of just over 20,000 residents but a visitor destination for over 300,000 people throughout the year.

Companies value the quality of life Ashland affords them. A few comments are as follows:

“We could have moved our business anywhere but chose Ashland for its livability, charm, proximity to the outdoors and its accessibility for our business needs,” says Hakatai Enterprises owner, Marshall Malden, a company that supplies quality glass tile products and trend setting custom mosaics to both commercial and residential customers.

“Doing business in Ashland is all about family.  We have done business, raised our families and many remain here in the Valley.  It has been really easy to do business here,” says owner, Gene Morris, Oak Street Tank and Steel, the oldest business in Ashland having been operated by the same family since 1912.

“Ashland has been a great place for us to grow our business and raise our family.  The community has big city culture of world-class restaurants, college town atmosphere, and social diversity but has the pace and neighborliness of a small town,” says Tanner Cropper of Cropper Medical, Inc./Bio Skin who designs, manufacturers, and markets compression supports, orthopedic braces and human performance gear. 

A significant amount of economic activity occurs in the form of home occupations throughout the city. Many of Ashland’s most successful firms began as home occupations, and when they outgrew their homes, moved to larger facilities. According to the 2010 national census, nearly 1,200 employees were located in residential zones.
 
At 16 percent, Ashland has a high percentage of self-employed workers, with  many working at home (2010 National Census data).  According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis in 2011, proprietors comprised 27.6 percent of Jackson County’s total employment, compared to 22.6 percent for Oregon statewide.
 
In Jackson County as a whole, 12.3 percent of workers are self-employed, while 8.9 percent of workers across Oregon fall into that category. The nation-wide figure is just 6.6 percent, the census reported.
 
“The good quality of life in Jackson County may account for the high level of self-employed people,” said Guy Tauer, regional economist for the Oregon Employment Department. “People who can run their business anywhere can choose to live here,” he said. “People can work over the Internet and there is good access to airports. It really lets people decide where they want to live. They can pick where they want their business, versus if they worked for someone else and had to live where their job was.”

The Rogue Valley is comprised of Jackson and Josephine counties (Region 8) and is expected to add over 14,350 jobs between 2010 and 2020, an increase of 14 percent according to the Oregon Employment Department’s 2010 to 2020 industry employment forecast.  Guy Tauer also states that the “Rogue Valley’s private sector will grow by 16 percent over the period while government payrolls will expand by only 4 percent. Region 8’s private-sector employers are expected to increase their payrolls by 13,730 jobs over the next 10 years, accounting for 96 percent of all new jobs in the region. Oregon overall is expected to gain nearly 300,000 jobs over the next 10 years, with the Rogue Valley accounting for about 5 percent of the total statewide increase.”  Additionally he states that “most all of the Rogue Valley’s major industry sectors are anticipated to grow in the coming years, but about three-fifths of all growth is anticipated to occur in the region’s three largest industries: educational and health services (+ 4,130 jobs); trade, transportation, and utilities (+3,040 jobs); and leisure and hospitality (+1,510 jobs). Professional and business services (+1,470 jobs) is also expected to gain many jobs through 2020. The manufacturing sector is expected to add 1,260 jobs over the period while the construction industry adds 650.“ For further information or to contact the Oregon Employment Department, visit
www.qualityinfo.org.

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