A Grassroots Common Agenda: Economic Recovery

Malheur Poverty to Prosperity was created to address the grassroots common agenda: Economic Recovery. The MP2P CTE committee is committed to drastically reducing poverty while building a strong local workforce. By improving outcomes for Opportunity Youth and Priority Youth, businesses and communities have the potential to increase savings for society, improve the quality of talent available to employers, and interrupt a multigenerational cycle of poverty for youth and their families.

Improving outcomes for Malheur youth is a complex, multifaceted challenge—a challenge that no one organization can solve alone, but one that our community can solve together. Historically, Malheur County has been the poorest, most disadvantaged county in the state. Malheur County’s poverty rate is currently at 22.6% compared to Oregon’s 14.8%. This poverty results in a corresponding higher rate of unwed pregnant teens (teen pregnancy rate of 13.6%; Oregon is 10.1%), high contact with the law enforcement, court and jail/prison systems, and a loss of the value these young men and women could add to Oregon’s social and economic base.

One of the causes of poverty is our failure to train our children for jobs readily available in our community, and in not using or developing resources that we have in abundance within Malheur County.

Poverty to Prosperity

In the fall of 2011 separate groups of business people began to meet and discuss the past and future of Malheur County. One group focused on the many industrial business visitors who come to Malheur County but rarely stay because of the lack of properly zoned industrial land. Another focused on the lack of Career Technical Education (CTE) training offered in our school systems. Another group began to identify business opportunities in retention and better utilization of natural resources. A critical connection was made between these groups. They believed the solution for business growth rested within the cooperative and collaborative partnership between business and education leaders.

A dedicated group of local business people began a movement entitled “Malheur County: From Poverty to Prosperity.” They worked closely with Oregon State Representative Cliff Bentz to bring to fruition his strategic five point economic development plan for Malheur County. A community business leader was selected to chair each part of the plan and action committees were formed. The plan consists of: 1) Building a Career Technical Education School, 2) Expansion of Industrial Land, 3) Utilization of Natural Resources, 4) Retention of Local Business, and 5) Expand Ag Traded Sector.