Reflecting on 2023 & Purposefully Moving Forward into 2024


2023 was a year of rising inflation and tepid commercial growth in Bend. Increased operational costs impacted business and hit the pocketbooks of our community as they tried to stay ahead of rising prices. Although it looks as if Inflation has slowed and the economy remains stable, the residual damage caused by escalated costs will continue to impact how businesses invest and grow and how our workforce weathers 2024.

At the Bend Chamber, we have followed these patterns as businesses have navigated the wild ride of the last few years, and we see opportunity ahead, along with some challenges. One of the most significant continuing challenges is unaffordable housing. Last year, the Chamber, along with Providence Health Plan and other private investors, worked with RootedHomes, a nonprofit land trust that builds net-zero attainable housing for people earning 80 percent of Area Mean Income (AMI) or less. They constructed seven homes that were put into a lottery where local employees were given a chance to purchase their first home. Employers were direct contributors to making these homes affordable, and with the success of this pilot, we hope other employers will consider investments in housing.

This year, the Chamber is exploring a low-interest revolving loan program to reduce construction costs for builders who want to create mid-market housing. These loans will be an excellent opportunity for employers to contribute to a program that will provide housing to local employees for many years to come.

The 2024 legislative session will be short and in earnest. The Chamber will support legislation that provides infrastructure funding for urban redevelopment to increase housing and commercial construction. We will also be watching the advancement of legislation to address street drug use and increase access to treatment to combat health and safety issues that have devastated so many people and businesses.

This year, we will support businesses experiencing continuing changes due to remote work, new technology, and rising costs. We will continue to provide programming to businesses wanting employee skills development and access to experts and peers through our leadership development programs. This will include a focus on emerging leaders who are early in their career path. This year, the Chamber’s BendNEXT Foundation will unveil its updated program to grow and retain our community’s future business leaders.

Lastly, the Chamber will continue to work with partners to bring economic development, innovation, and workforce amenities to Bend. This includes working to increase childcare options for working families and supporting innovative development of industrial and commercial property in the Bend Central District, at OSU-Cascades and Central Oregon Community College campuses, and the Juniper Ridge industrial area. We will also continue to support innovative middle-market housing for our community’s middle class.

The Chamber’s bottom line for 2024 — stay focused on foundational elements of business — workforce and costs. We will work hard to create more workforce housing to ensure a stable labor supply, continue to grow future leaders and collaborate to attract more economic investment in our community. We can only do this with member and partner support because together, we thrive.


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