Ashland Economy
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Our Economy

For more specific information on the economy go to the Chamber’s companion website,

An established higher education core and vibrant tourism sector form the core of Ashland’s economy.

Along with a strong and growing health care community, there are a number of high-performing businesses who are leaders in their industry.  These businesses range from technology innovators and filmmakers to specialty manufacturers, food and beverage producers and artisans. Many incorporate green and sustainable practices and have received statewide accolades for their accomplishments. Light manufacturing firms boast a number of global businesses while hundreds of home-based businesses continue to grow with the support of excellent locally provided fiber connectivity giving Ashland a reputation for cultivating successful, dynamic and leading-edge companies. 

Southern Oregon University, with more than 6,200 students, plus faculty, staff, and administration numbering over 750, is Ashland’s largest employer with approximately $55 million a year in payroll. Total annual revenue for the University is almost $95 million. This sets the stage for a highly educated workforce and population, an engaged citizenry, and knowledgeable public. 

The City of Ashland has over 250 employees and a total annual payroll of just over $19 million.  Employees of the City manage and maintain key electric, fiber, water and transportation infrastructure essential to the success of the local economy as well as public safety,and parks and recreation services that maintain an outstanding quality of life for the residents. Citizen surveys consistently rank the quality of services they receive from the City as excellent.  

Tourism in Oregon is a $10.3 Billion industry that generates over 101,000 jobs and indirectly creates another 52,500 jobs across the state.  Tourism and travel continue to grow and strengthen both locally and statewide.  The Ashland Visitor and Convention Bureau serves as the Destination Marketing Organization for Ashland promoting Ashland’s cultural, culinary and outdoor experiences through a strategic marketing plan. Ashland welcomes 300,000 visitors annually, with 67,500 of those attending plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  There are many reasons and seasons the draw visitors to enjoy Ashland, as they like it. 

Visitor spending helps support the rich and diverse cultural, recreational, retail and dining opportunities. Visitors supplement local demand for goods and services which leads to more and varied kinds of businesses, from specialty boutiques and day spas to sporting goods and river-rafting companies. Visitor spending on lodging and food also contributes financially to key city services that they impact, lightening the load to some degree on locals.

The Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (AE&R) industry represents 28 firms and 735 jobs in Ashland. 

Average annual pay is $31,003 in visitor-related sectors in Ashland. This exceeds industry averages statewide.  Source: Oregon Employment Department, 2014.  

Ashland’s higher-paying jobs reflect its rich cultural, historical and recreational offerings. In fact, it is likely that worker pay is understated in Ashland’s AE&R industry for several reasons. Similar to the Retail Trade sector, the AE&R sector likely has numerous small businesses whose owners and their pay are not reported here. Additionally, the average wage of Ashland’s AE&R sector is further dampened by the volume of part-time workers hired seasonally.

Click here to learn more about our Tourism Economy.

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