Roseburg City Council on Monday authorized $25,000 to fund half of a study that would analyze the economic impact and benefits of the planned allied and mental health college in Roseburg.

Local governments and organizations have been working for years to bring the college to the area. Wayne Patterson, executive director of the Umpqua Economic Development Partnership, said the college would spur workforce development in an area with extensive mental healthcare needs but a shortage of healthcare workers.

Patterson said the city’s contribution shows the coalition Oregonians for Rural Health, a subgroup of the partnership, local governments and organizations continue to make progress toward establishing the college. He added that completing the study is required to be able to request funding from the Oregon State Legislature.

“We’re excited,” Patterson said. “The hope is that one domino knocks another one down and we just keep knocking these dominoes down until we’ve got a brand new allied mental health university in Roseburg.”

George Fox University and the coalition recently entered a memorandum of understanding to explore building the college in Roseburg. The university would provide the accreditation and the academic model, and the coalition would identify where to build the college and how to manage it.

In its economic assessment proposal, ECONorthwest said the study would analyze how the college would impact employment opportunities, residents’ incomes and tax revenues for local government.

It would also measure potential social benefits such as increased access to local health services, reduced costs of obtaining care, higher quality of life related to employment opportunities and improved access to care.

Additionally, the study would do a cost-benefit analysis of establishing the college.

The rural health coalition and George Fox University aren’t yet at the point of establishing how the college’s budget will look, according to Patterson. The study will allow the coalition to figure out whether the college can receive funding from the state, he said.

“This is a report that’s required by the state in order for us to request funding,” Patterson said. “We want to make sure that it gets into this next legislative session.”

Patterson said the support for the project from the City of Roseburg and the Douglas County Board of Commissioners has been extensive. The resolution to authorize funding for the study passed city council unanimously.

“This is not a one-man show,” Patterson said. “Without their help and helping us fast-track and getting these answers we’d still be halfway where we are today.”

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City Reporter

Max Egener is the city reporter for The News-Review. He has a master's degree from the University of Oregon, and is an avid skier and backpacker.

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