Klamath County Economy
Klamath County has long been host to agriculture and forest products industries, however other business clusters are developing. Besides the traditional industries, emergent business clusters include sustainability, education, medical professions and a budding energy sector. Together such diversity in a local cluster provides Klamath County businesses with the necessary resources for future sustained growth.
“Agriculture and timber are a big part of the Klamath County economy representing over $600 million in receipts annually. However, healthcare continues to grow and become an important sector of commerce,” according to Trey Senn, executive director of the Klamath County Economic Development Association. “One of our big employment opportunities is in health.” Senn adds that Sanford Health recently chose Klamath Falls as the location for its newest children’s clinic. The $7 million pediatric clinic is under construction and will be operational in the Spring of 2013. Sanford Health, headquartered in Fargo, N.D, is the largest rural non-profit health system in the nation with 112 locations. The clinic is located adjacent to the Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) campus, Sky Lakes Medical Center and Cascades East Rural Family Medicine Residency Program. This area serves Klamath County as a health care cluster. Chamber Director and TEAM Klamath member Charles Massie points to the growing influence of higher education in the community.
“Oregon Tech is a mainstay here attracting about 4,000 students from all over the world,” Massie says, “It’s ranked nationally for placement of its Information Technology students.” He adds, “The Renewable Energy Engineering program was the first of its kind in the nation. And, it is a very sustainable campus.” Oregon Tech has geothermal wells on campus that provide 100% of the heat and air conditioning. More geothermal energy is being developed for electricity needs. The entire college expects to be climate neutral by 2017.
Alternative energy is another economic driver to the local area. The city operates its own geothermal utility district, providing low-cost, hot water heat to 600 buildings. It’s famous for its geothermal-heated downtown sidewalks that keep public pedestrian paths clear of snow and ice during the winter. Klamath Falls is host to the only geothermal-operated microbrewery in Oregon — The Klamath Basin Brewing Company.
Several other large employers call Klamath County home. Klamath Falls Airport & Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base, is home base to the 173rd Fighter Wing, Oregon Air National Guard that fulfills a training mission for the U.S. Air Force. Approximately 1,000 people work at the airport, aviation-related businesses and industries located on or adjacent to the airport. This produces over $85 million in economic impact for the regional community. National Electronic Warranty (NEW), a call center for the satellite television provider DIRECTV, is another large employer.
TEAM KLAMATH RECRUITS BUSINESSES TO THE AREA
Since 1975, TEAM Klamath has reflected the best of private enterprise, responsibility and dedication. Its Mission s to provide tailored recruitment and retention/expansion programs, new opportunities for jobs, a diversified, value-added industrial base and expanded economic development. TEAM Klamath and Klamath County are aware of the needs of local businesses, and have a collection of business incentives suited for companies looking to expand or improve their work force, including:
• On-the-job training (OJT) funds through Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC) – 50% of trainees wages for an average of three months.
• Flexible loan funds through the South Central Oregon Economic Development District (SCOEDD) – If you have a difficult time finding financing for your project, SCOEDD may be able to help.
• Oregon Enterprise Zone - 100% total exemption from property taxes normally assessed on qualified plant and equipment on an investment of $50,000 or more. The exemption can be for 3-5 years. Property that qualifies for the enterprise zone exemption would be a new building/structure, structural modifications or additions, or newly installed machinery or equipment, but not land, pre-existing property value or minor personal property items.
• Oregon Investment Advantage – 10-year waiver on all state income/excise taxes related to your operations—potentially avoiding state business tax liability for that period.
•Oregon businesses have been the beneficiaries of 19 consecutive years of flat or declining rates in Worker’s Compensation. Since 1990, nearly $17.4 billion has been saved in premium costs. (Source: Department of Consumer and Business Services September 2008.)
For more information contact Trey Senn, Director of Klamath County Economic Development Association,
P.O. Box 1777, Klamath Falls, OR 97601, Phone (541) 882-9600. You can also visit www.SustainableKlamath.org, www.sobusi.com, www.Klamath.org, www.KlamathCommunity.com