Investment study ranks Deschutes County on top

SmartAsset says Deschutes best in state for business investment

By Joseph Ditzler / The Bulletin / @josefditzler

Deschutes County ranked first among counties in Oregon for luring business investment, according to SmartAsset , an online financial advice company.

SmartAsset compiled an index based on four factors — business growth; growth in gross domestic product; new building permits; and municipal bond investment — to create a local investment index. Deschutes County scored 45.74 on the index, 7.4 points ahead of No. 2 Clackamas County.

Deschutes County “came out not only number one in the state, but number 128 in the country,” said AJ Smith, managing editor for SmartAsset.

Business growth is determined by the change in the number of businesses established in each location over a two-year period, according to the SmartAsset website. GDP is real growth in the local economy, adjusted for inflation.

This is the first year the company compiled a county-level investment index, Smith said. SmartAsset provides advice and answers to consumer financial questions such as how much home can a buyer afford and the right age at which to retire, Smith said. The county index was meant to show where investment opportunities can be found.

“People think only about investing on Wall Street,” Smith said. “Hopefully, by bringing a little bit of attention, people will think more about investing locally.”

Investment firms that funded SmartAsset include Quotidian Ventures, a New York City firm; Petersen Ventures, of Salt Lake City; and Javelin Venture Partners, of San Francisco, according to the SmartAsset website.

Central Oregon, including Deschutes County, offers a variety of incentives that make the area an attractive place to do business, according to Economic Development for Central Oregon. The state of Oregon and the county provide tax incentives for businesses locating in the area and for creating jobs. Deschutes County also set the pace for job creation during the economic recovery that followed the Great Recession. The Oregon Employment Department recently reported the highest number of nonfarm jobs ever counted in the county in June, more than 74,000.

“It’s a very exciting time in the county,” said Tony DeBone, chairman of the Deschutes County Commission and president of the EDCO board of directors. “Deschutes County is a leader. It goes back to our coordinated efforts for economic development.”

A diverse economy represented by tourism, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, high tech and business services, among others, is another strength, DeBone said. Total payroll in Central Oregon amounts to about $2.3 billion for 63,000 private-sector employees, according to EDCO. The county population continued to grow, even during the Great Recession, another positive aspect, DeBone said.

“When I took office in 2011, we weren’t sure we were out of the recession,” he said Friday. “Three years later, (property) values are coming back. We don’t want too hot a market, but it’s hard to contain people’s enthusiasm.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7815,