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OSU-Cascades Expansion full funding

May 9, 2017

Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Capital Construction
Senator Fred Girod and Representative Paul Holvey, Co-Chairs
900 Court Street NE, Room H-178
Salem, Oregon 97301

RE: Support Full Funding ($69.5 million) for OSU-Cascades Expansion

Dear Co-Chairs Girod and Holvey and Subcommittee Members:

This letter is in support full funding for the expansion of the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend. The presence and growth of OSU-Cascades is critical to the health of our state and the Central Oregon region. It has forged partnerships, built a home-grown workforce and elevated the region’s ability to attract and retain a diverse economy.

Central Oregon continues to outpace growth statewide, including generating 20 percent of the state’s new job growth, and adding 44,000 more people by 2025. This makes the need for higher education opportunities more acute. Governor Brown has emphasized a desire to fund projects that prioritize access to higher education, particularly for underserved minorities, first generation, low income, and rural students. OSU-Cascades can uniquely deliver on these crucial access and job generation goals.

Most public college students, particularly those less affluent, enroll within 50 miles of home. OSU-Cascades draws 70 percent of its students primarily from Central Oregon, which is geographically isolated and under-served in regards to higher education opportunities. The average student is 29 years of age, 35 percent are first generation attendees, 18 percent are U.S. minorities and 50 percent are Pell Grant eligible (low income).

It is critical to receive full funding to begin construction of new academic and student services facilities immediately. OSU-Cascade’s enrollment has been the fastest growing in our state each year since 2011. Capacity is projected to be reached by 2021 –barely enough time to plan, permit and construct new facilities.

By 2025 OSU-Cascades will contribute nearly $198 million in statewide economic output and more than 2,000 jobs. The impact of this economic activity and job generation to Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties is a very real game-changer for the region’s economic health. Central Oregon employers need more graduates to fill burgeoning industries of high tech, biosciences, healthcare, manufacturing and professional services. Yet, this trajectory could be stunted without the capability to keep pace with workforce needs.

We urge you to fully fund the OSU Cascades expansion.

Sincerely,

 

Katy Brooks
PresidentBend Chamber of Commerce

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