As the Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce rolled into 2019, we knew it would be a year of changes, challenges and chances. Chances to provide new and expanded services to our members and the Douglas County business community. Well, 2019 has not disappointed.

Most of the challenges faced to date occured during Oregon’s 80th Legislative Assembly. As most everyone is aware, this past legislative session was historic.

That’s an understatement. Beyond a session that on the surface can be summed up in hashtags — #supermajority, #no2020, #timberunity, #staystrongstaygone, #Oregon11 — there was so much more.

An abundance of underlying issues and trials behind those hashtags. And, while HB 2020, the cap and trade bill which the Roseburg Chamber opposed, was held at bay, for now, other “not-friendly-to-business” bills passed this session and have or will soon become law.

The Roseburg Area Chamber closely followed about 100 bills, weighing in on 25 to 30, this session. Thankfully, our statewide partners monitored nearly 1,000 bills and weighed in on hundreds in defense of Oregon businesses.

For a brief recap of those bills, check out the chamber’s August newsletter online.

The Legislature adjourned, finally, on June 30, 2019, with the legislature using all 160 days granted under Oregon’s Constitution. There were small victories for business and our community, but the long-term impacts of some of the legislation passed will no doubt adversely affect businesses, its employees and customers, particularly in rural Oregon.

The near future will see elections and special elections, ballot initiatives and legislative sessions where we’ll face some of the same old battles and most likely new ones in defense of local business.

Oregon’s 2020 legislative session will convene on February 3, 2020. By October of this year, the chamber will know what issues we will face during the session and be ready to advocate for business in 2020.

I mentioned chances earlier, new opportunities to best serve our business members. First, is the chamber’s new website launched just this past week. It’s that new, so we’re still working out a few kinks, of course, but are really proud of all the new and expanded information available to our members, the community, visitors as well as individuals and businesses looking to relocate to Douglas County.

The Roseburg Area Chamber has added new social media platforms to its new website to better communicate programs, activities, Calls to Action and so much more to our members, Douglas County businesses and our community as a whole. Be sure and check it out.

The Roseburg Area Chamber shared in past communications, three new councils beginning in the fall — the Douglas County Hotel/Lodging Industry Council, Douglas County Manufacturing Industry Council and Douglas County Retail Council.

These councils will support the chamber’s work with industry sectors to identify their barriers to growth, needs and common challenges.

Together we’ll work to identify ways to meet those needs and eliminate barriers to foster growth, job creation and long-term sustainability to grow our Douglas County economy.

In early 2020, the chamber plans to kick off its “Roseburg Works” task force, focusing on both general and industry-specific workforce development activities. The chamber will, as it always does, work with community partners to help meet workforce needs critical to sustaining and growing our businesses now and well into the future.

Many of the decisions regarding the chamber’s workforce development activities and support will be driven by an extensive Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) study starting this fall.

While adding a number of new business support, protection and promotion undertakings, the Roseburg Area Chamber will continue current great programs and services such as Project Leadership Roseburg. This distinguished community-minded professional development program starts its 31st year in September.

Also in September, our membership luncheons will return along with regular scheduled committee and task force meetings, and Economic Forecast 2020 in November.

The Roseburg Area Chamber continues to provide visitors to our area with information about Roseburg and the Land of Umpqua and the abundance of things there are to see and do throughout our beautiful county. And, we will continue to do so.

The chamber remains the resource for those interested in moving to Douglas County. With expanded online information, our relocation brochure, “customized” mailings and phone and email responses, all of us at the Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce will continue to share with the masses that this incredible place we call home — Roseburg, Douglas County, our majestic Land of Umpqua — is the best place to live, work and play.

Debbie Fromdahl is the president and CEO of the Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

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