February 7, 2012
Jean Wheat-Palm, President and CEO of Valley Credit Union in Salem, Ore., and the chair of the Northwest Credit Union Association’s Oregon Governmental Affairs Committee (GAC), testified before the House Transportation and Economic Development Committee in support of the Oregon Investment Act on Monday morning.
According to a press release from the State Treasurer’s office, the bill was created after Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, along with numerous legislators and government officials, asked the question, “How can Oregon better help to stimulate the economy and create jobs?”
A summary of the bill states that the purpose of the Oregon Investment Act is “to encourage investment in and availability of capital to new and existing businesses in Oregon and to increase resources available to local governments and state agencies that create, facilitate, maintain and promote financial services and support and to other efforts that further economic development in Oregon.”
“Credit Unions have first-hand experience in deploying capital locally,” Wheat-Palm said. “We believe the Oregon Investment Act can build on the public-private partnerships that are currently working and improve them by adding leverage from the private sector so we can expand and diversify efforts to grow and improve all our communities.”
The bill would establish an Oregon Growth Board, which will coordinate economic development resources and “establish a unified strategic framework for all economic development resources. Business looking to grow jobs in Oregon will be able to find a full menu of assistance options in one place.”
“We believe in coordinating these efforts so that the financial community can better address capital gaps in types of investment and across sectors,” Wheat-Palm said. “This will help financial institutions meet the needs of their communities and will also be beneficial for institutions looking to engage in such partnerships (due to increased leverage and coordination).”
According to the summary, “the Oregon Growth Board will have broad authority over the Oregon Growth Fund, and be able to re-allocate resources where they will be most efficiently put to use. The Board will not make individual investment decisions, but instead will operate more like the Oregon Investment Council—able to allocate resources down to managers who make specific decisions. In this way, Oregon’s job-creation tools will be more nimble and more responsive to changing economic opportunities while still accountable to statutory goals and benchmarks.”
The summary also cited the Oregon Investment Fund as an example of the state’s track record of success “leveraging in-state investments with out-of-state dollars” and said that this practice would be a continued point of emphasis.
“The Oregon Investment Act builds on that success and adds some sanity to the existing economic development infrastructure,” Wheat-Palm said. “We look forward to participating on the Oregon Growth Board, which credit unions will have one seat on.”
The bill will now have a final work session in committee before moving on to the House floor for a vote.
Questions? Contact a member of the Association’s Legislative Affairs team: