Here’s a new term to consider: Lifestyle spending.
It’s the money people spend when they’re enjoying their lives — when they travel and recreate. Apparently, it’s a trillion-dollar industry that should be a natural fit for a place as beautiful as Douglas County.
That was an idea put forth by Fred Dickson, who’s been tapped a couple times to speak in Roseburg for the Chamber of Commerce’s annual economic forecast.
The chief investment strategist for D.A. Davidson Companies noted that we have a wonderful river, world-class national park at Crater Lake, fishing, hunting and other outdoor opportunities.
“Why doesn’t Roseburg have a world-class resort like Great Wolf Lodge?” Dickson asked, referring to the massive indoor water park, family playground and resort near Olympia, Wash.
When prompted further about how communities gain family-wage jobs from tourist attractions, Dickson explained that building such a multimillion-dollar facility would bring construction jobs. Beyond the building, there would be jobs in maintenance and electrical work as well as the typical hospitality jobs. The presence of such a resort could also bring in more service-industry businesses.
While acknowledging those jobs are on the lower end of the wage spectrum, Dickson said the multiplier effect of those wages being spent in the community can really boost a local economy.
He encouraged Roseburg to consider its strong potential for capturing tourism dollars. It’s an idea we’ve heard before. While tourism jobs won’t equal the pay in lost manufacturing jobs, Dickson’s suggestions deserve merit in diversifying our economy.
The need for food production could be another opportunity for our area, Dickson said. As the world’s population is growing, food production is shrinking, so an area like ours with a strong agricultural base should be able to take advantage of that opportunity.
When asked what programs Umpqua Community College might provide to help employers, Dickson said there’s a great need for data networking specialists to keep computer networks operating smoothly in small businesses.
The other industries where he sees growth include water resource development (water is the biggest need in the world), protection of electronic data (defense against cyberterrorism), and energy resource development. Entrepreneurs take note.
Fellow panelist Paul Barnum of the Oregon Forest Resources Institute said secondary wood products manufacturing is another area where Douglas County could expand. He also warned that the primary wood products industry that is so strong here could suffer in the future without a more dependable log supply. Getting that supply will require legislation that allows management of our federal forests — an oft-repeated refrain in this column.
If Douglas County’s future relies more on tourism, our forests can’t be untouchable. While managing them may bring about more logging, such management must also be designed to make our forests more resistant to wildfire and insects.
Ultimately, we want healthy, resilient forests that provide jobs and attract tourists.