Bevy of topics explored at Oregon Leadership Summit

Drones, support for rural Oregon, and wages all discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.

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Drones, support for rural Oregon, and wages all discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.

The potential of an unmanned aircraft industry settling in the Beaver State was a source of optimism at the summit, the Statesman Journal reports.

Brian Whiteside, who supervises the Warm Springs site, said the drones have potential uses including agriculture, fire fighting, and search and rescue. For example, where helicopters can’t fly at night on a wildfire, a drone can fly all night long, as no pilot is required.

They can also be used for environmental purposes, such as elk counting and monitoring salmon runs, said Tillamook County Commissioner Mark Labhart.

As a means to slow the decay of rural economies in the state, higher education leaders proposed programs to embolden a new-wave of timber industry.

Thomas Maness, dean of the Oregon State University College of Forestry, told the gathering that his school is partnering with the University of Oregon to create a new Oregon Forest Sciences Complex in Corvallis. The $60 million initiative will be started with $30 million in private funds matched by $30 million in state bonds promised by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, Maness said.

The complex with include a research laboratory that will study how to make and market laminated wood products that can be used to construct wood buildings up to 30 stories tall. Such buildings already exist in Europe but the technology is largely unknown in America.

Read more at the Portland Tribune.

Belying the optimism of recently robust job reports was some lawmakers’ fears that wages are not keeping pace with economic growth.

“We’re not creating well-paying jobs fast enough to replace the well-paying jobs lost during the Great Recession.”

Kitzhaber said he would work with business leaders on education, natural resources and infrastructure.

Read more at the Portland Business Journal.

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