A reader sent us a link <a href="http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2009025898_centraloregon12m.html" title="to this Seattle Times story on the economic misfortunes of Bend, Ore.”>to this Seattle Times story on the economic misfortunes of Bend, Ore., and commented, “Sounds a lot like the Flathead Valley, only we are a couple steps behind.”
I agree that Bend and the Flathead Valley have much in common: growth attributed to newcomers drawn to the outdoors; strong ties to the timber industry; and, with both now tapering off, high unemployment.
The difference – and I only base this on anecdotal evidence from visiting Bend and the Times story – is that Bend truly is an overbuilt, high-end market. In the Flathead, the economy slowed before many of the valley’s subdivision were even finished. Overall, Bend seemed much further along in redefining itself as an outdoor mecca for second homeowners that have since tightened their wallets. That may just be blind optimism on my part.
The story is definitely worth a read. An excerpt:
This town that helped define the booming New West economy has hit tough times. Once tied to timber and home to one of the nation’s largest pine mills, Bend reinvented itself in the last few decades as an outdoor-recreation mecca. Tens of thousands of new arrivals were drawn to the mountain-rimmed high desert for a lifestyle that included skiing, fishing, golfing and hiking.
This year, Oregon as a whole has been socked by the nation’s economic turmoil. In February, the state had an overall unemployment rate of 10.8 percent — the third-highest in the nation after Michigan and South Carolina. And Bend is one of the state’s roughest spots, with 12.6 percent of the work force in the city and surrounding Deschutes County without a job.
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