South County Rebounds, Projected for Robust Growth

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(La Pine Industrial Park | Graphic courtesy of SLED)

Deschutes County and South County residents are among the first County and City in the State to gain Economic Recovery, according to Oregon State Economist Josh Lehner in the 2022 Annual Sunriver-La Pine Economic Development (SLED) luncheon hosted by the Sunriver Resort. Amidst the Pandemic, worker shortage and supply chain disruption, city, regional and state presenters highlighted the astounding progress made by the interdependent communities of La Pine, Sunriver and Three Rivers South over the past year.

South County businesses and residents have pushed through the pandemic stalemate and are on track for expansion teeming with new residential developments, having gained unprecedented homes and lot sales prices and record-high appreciation for existing home and lots. This windfall coupled with low inventory and solid prospects for incentivized industrial/commercial land pricing in La Pine and low unemployment through Sunriver to La Pine will potentially put the area in a stable balance between supply and demand, allowing the overwhelming demand for services to slow enough for the workforce to catch up. Amidst the labor shortage and supply chain disruption, area residents’ home market value appreciated up to 25 percent so increased home equity created more time and money at hand to rouse homeowners to invest in home improvement. A surge in demand for local business and contractor services from the floodgate of visitors to the area’s vacation homes and Airbnb’s led to an overflow transient Room tax revenue collection to greatly benefit South Deschutes County with capital improvements.

County Projects: $8 million has allocated to the Sunriver Service District to help fund a public safety building that will house the Sunriver Fire and Police Departments. The total project is estimated to cost $16-$18 million.

$550,000 has also been appropriated by Deschutes County for MountainStar Family Relief Nursery to build a childcare facility in La Pine to assist with the childcare needs of the area.

Notable ongoing La Pine to Sunriver & Three Rivers South Projects:

  • $35 million investment in wastewater and water capacity expansion
  • $1 million investment in new trail development
  • $1 million investment in park and ride transit center
  • Bend Broadband is re-building the entire La Pine market with GPON (gigabit passive optical Network over 7K addresses) up to 1Gig available with 400Mbps upload
  • Sunriver is most desired Zoom Town in Oregon​
  • Sunriver Trail — A new network of ten miles of recreational dirt and gravel trails (accessible from Sunriver over Cardinal Bridge and from Forest Road #41) will offer exciting opportunities for mountain biking, hiking and trail running for residents and tourists. The new Sunriver Trails bring another important outdoor adventure amenity to South Deschutes County. Most of the construction of the Sunriver Trails has been completed by volunteers from a recently formed chapter of the Central Oregon Trail Alliance. bendtrails.org/roundabout
  • Sunriver Resort submitted a final master plan to Deschutes County for the Caldera Springs project. There are 340 home sites, and 75 vacation rental units are planned
  • Sunriver Resort is on schedule to open a new indoor aquatics facility by Memorial Day that has been under construction for the past year

Population Growth: La Pine has experienced 52 percent of population growth from 2010 to 2020, and is ranked number seven in the Top Ten Fastest Growing Cities in Oregon with a combined community population of 18,477 and labor force of 4,617.

Labor Market: Lehner said the outlook for Deschutes County Labor Market will remain tight, with large Millennials cohort (1981-1999), who are now middle-age and the key economic force. Smaller Gen Z cohort due to a lot fewer teenagers (2000-2018) barely offsets retiring Baby Boomers in labor market will surpass the extra-large Baby Boomers cohort (1946-1964) in absolute size next year.

Fastest Growth Sectors:

  • Leisure & Hospitality​
  • Professional/Biz Services​
  • Education​
  • Transportation/Warehousing/ Utilities Care​

Housing:

  • The historically lowest inventory of existing homes with the added shortfall of available, affordable and new housing needed — and record-high lot sales and sales prices have all led to jaw-dropping sales price increases and brutal buyer competition
  • There are six residential projects of nearly 400 units currently in development, along with 36 multi-family units under construction with more in the pipeline
  • The county has awarded development of 42 acres in the Newberry Neighborhood for 80 new homes with an allocation of four acres to Habitat for Humanity

Average Home Price:​

  • La Pine $421,705 ​
  • Sunriver $902,873​

Median Household Income:​

  • La Pine $41,788​
  • Sunriver $55,750​

There is a strategic effort to create more job opportunities, childcare and workforce development for South Deschutes County residents to enhance the local economy.

SLED has been working with developers to create more industrial space available for potential traded sector businesses. The goal is to bring more family wage jobs and capital investment to the community.

What makes South County especially alluring is its distinction as having the economic impact of the remaining lion’s share of rarely and readily available developable land with the water, sewer and power infrastructure — In the City of La Pine there are 160 acres of fully infrastructured industrial zoned land owned by the county available for development Then connect those opportunities with its direly needed and swelling population growth of Millennial and Boomer workforce of the combined labor market of the Sunriver, Three Rivers South and La Pine to the area’s largest Employers. Presto! You have a growing and readily available workforce in the years to come!

Contributor, Ginny Kansas-Meszaros, Advisory Board member, Sunriver-La Pine Economic Development, principal broker/owner of Ginny Kansas Real Estate. ginny.m.kansas@gmail.

Patricia Lucas, CEcD — executive director — Sunriver/La Pine Economic Development Program. sledexcutivedirector@gmail.com.

Sunriver/La Pine Economic Development (SLED) has a mission to help move, start and grow traded-sector businesses to purposefully create a balanced and diverse economy at the local level and for the region. The Sunriver/La Pine program was initiated in 2014 and has been actively assisting traded sector businesses in the local economy ever since. The program has the support of a local advisory board that is 13 members strong representing the public and private sector. The board plays a significant role in collaborating and strategizing on how to make these communities prosper.

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