Oregon Governor-elect John Kitzhaber has named Barbara Byrd and John Mohlis as team leaders of his Economic Development transition team. Byrd is secretary-treasurer of the Oregon AFL-CIO and Mohlis is executive secretary of the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council.
Kitzhaber campaigned on job creation, so as his first order of business even before taking office, he announced the creation of five teams assigned specific tasks aimed at helping grow Oregon’s economy. Each team has been charged with developing statutory and regulatory recommendations for the legislative session that begins Feb. 1.
“I said during the campaign that I would be ready to start on day one —and this is day one — day one of our effort to put Oregon back to work,” Kitzhaber said. “I intend to pull Oregon together and begin the necessary work to create jobs and get the private sector economy moving. And just as I said during the campaign, I cannot do this alone. I need the help of Oregonians from across the state to achieve our goals during the legislative session and throughout my administration.”
Byrd will join Maurice Rahming, president of O’Neill Electric, and Margaret Kirkpatrick, vice president and general counsel of NW Natural, as leaders of the Energy Efficiency Team. The team is charged with developing a legislative proposal to fund large energy efficiency retrofit projects on public buildings. The goal is to create a funding mechanism by bonding against projected energy savings of the retrofits.
O’Neill Electric is a union shop and member of the National Electrical Contractors Association. NW Natural crews work under a collective bargaining agreement with Office and Professional Employees Local 11.
“Such an effort can be done a number of different ways and over different timelines, but the bottom line is this: By immediately saving state dollars that would otherwise go to paying for energy-related costs, there will be an available revenue stream that is freed up for repayment,” Kitzhaber said.
The goal is to have the program up and running by next summer.
Mohlis will join John Carter, chairman of the board of Schnitzer Steel, as leaders of the Manufacturing Team. The team will focus first on policy changes that will assist existing manufacturers in a way that will boost the per capita income of Oregonians, with a secondary focus of attracting new manufacturers to Oregon.
Other transition teams announced by Kitzhaber will focus on economic development, biomass, and workforce development.
The Economic Development team is charged with developing proposals to better connect Oregon-based businesses with sources of investment and private capital. Team leaders are State Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Wally Van Valkenberg, managing partner of Stoel Rives and chair of the Oregon Business Development Commission.
The Biomass team is charged with both short term and long term plans for a more robust and diverse bio-energy industry in the state. This includes increasing demand for woody biomass in the short term, and a long term strategy to convert those facilities to converting waste into fuel. Team leaders are John Shelk, managing director of Ochoco Lumber Co.; Matt Donegan, co-founder of Forest Capital Partners; and Russ Hoeflich, vice president and Oregon director of the Nature Conservancy.
The Workforce Development Team will focus on developing career training programs for high demand jobs that remain unfilled even in this down economy. Sectors of focus include health care, welding, and renewable energy.
Team leaders are Dave Williams, vice president of NW Natural and chair of the Oregon Workforce Investment Board; and Lori Luchak, president of Miles Fiberglass.
Kitzhaber will soon announce transition teams for education and health care, and also a team for developing a statewide 10-year energy plan.
Kitzhaber will provide more details about his economic development strategies at the Oregon Business Summit Dec. 13 at the Oregon Convention Center.