Business in Corvallis: Opportunities and Obstacles

Corvallis’ Vision 20/20 statement (1997) calls for “a vibrant
economy that is anchored by key strategic industries and complemented by a
wealth of diverse, environmentally-friendly businesses.” While a key indicator,
the city’s unemployment rate, remains among the lowest in Oregon, the
employment mix has changed dramatically over the last decade. Manufacturing
accounts for less than half the jobs in March 2014 (2,980) that it did in 2002
(6,010), according to the Oregon Employment Department. Moreover, total private
sector jobs have slightly declined over that period. Growth in the public
sector, principally at Oregon State University, has resulted in about 5 percent
more total jobs in 2014 than in 2010.
Although the City of Corvallis has established an Economic
Development office, there may be other steps we can take to achieve a nearly
20-year-old economic vision. What are the persistent challenges facing
Corvallis in creating a “vibrant economy anchored by key strategic industries”?
Is the city business friendly? Through its policies and practices, how can it
nurture and retain new businesses and foster the success of those already
located here? What are the major challenges and how should we address them?
Tom Nelson

At the June 9 Corvallis City Club meeting, four speakers —
Tom Nelson, Skip Run, Jack Wolcott and Kevin Dwyer — will discuss the city’s business
climate. Since 2012, Nelson has managed the Corvallis Economic Development
office. A graduate of Oregon State, Nelson served seven years with the Oregon
Economic and Community Development Department and four years with the City
of Sherwood, Oregon, as the economic development manager, before he came to

Skip Rung

Skip Rung is the president and executive director of the
Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), which grows
research volume and commercialization in the broad area of nano- and
micro-scale science and engineering. Prior to accepting his current post, Rung
was director of research and developed at HP’s Corvallis campus. He has BS and
master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford.

Jack Wolcott

Jack Wolcott is the owner and founder
of Grass Roots Books and Music, which he started in 1971. He is also a
co-founder of the Corvallis Independent Business Alliance, which builds support
for local businesses. He graduated from Oregon State with a degree in

Kevin Dwyer

Kevin Dwyer is the Executive
Director of the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce. He has spent the past 16-plus
years in the Chamber and Economic Development fields. Prior to coming to
Corvallis, he ran chambers of commerce in Washington State, including 10
years at the helm of the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce.

The City Club meets in the Les Schwab Gym at the Boys & Girls Club, 1112 NW Circle. The meeting will begin at 12 noon, and doors will open at 11:30. As always, attendance is free. Lunch is $10 for members, $12 for non-members. To register, send e-mail to with “City Club June 9” in the subject line by June 6. Please indicate if you are having lunch.

One Response to “Business in Corvallis: Opportunities and Obstacles”

  1. Alexandra Eder

    Generating a well rounded conversation that triggers change requires folks to step up and share their experiences with the City's business processes.
    Hearing about what is working and where there's opportunity for change can open the door for process changes.
    What are the obstacles for change?
    How can we work to retain businesses in Corvallis?

    Alexandra Eder

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