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Modernization project a plus for Portland economy

December 01, 2010
Portland Public Schools’ proposed school modernization bond would provide a significant boost to the local economy – adding almost 2,600 jobs in the Portland region and $222 million in personal income over the six-year construction time-period, according to an analysis by a local economic consultant firm.
In November, the school district commissioned ECONorthwest to measure the local economic impact of a $548 million, six-year school modernization bond. The bond would update learning environments and upgrade safety, security and building systems at every PPS school. At a rate of approximately $2 per $1,000 of assessed value, the bond would cost the median homeowner about $25 per month.
Superintendent Carole Smith noted, “We know that jobs and the weak economy are very much on people’s minds as they consider investments in our school facilities. We wanted to be able to answer that basic question: What impact will this have on the local economy?”
Economist Alec Josephson of ECONorthwest measured three types of projected impacts to the local economy:
  • Direct impacts in the form of jobs and income for local construction workers, manufacturers, contractors, architects and project managers.
  • Indirect impacts such as business-to-business transactions within the supply chain, for example, contractors purchasing concrete, wood and steel for modernization projects.
  • Further impacts such as increased spending by newly employed workers and businesses.
Because local property owners would finance the project, Josephson accounted for a reduction in personal spending across the region to arrive at the net economic impact. His findings are summarized in the table below.
Type of impact
Personal income
Gross impact
(Bond program expenditures)
$413 million
Reduced household spending
-$191 million
Net impact
$222 million
“Our study focused on the immediate impact modernization spending could have on the Portland metro area,” Josephson said. “Although we didn’t quantify it, I would also expect to see benefits across Oregon.” For example, he noted, “there’s a good chance a lumber mill in Roseburg could benefit from supply-chain sales related this program.”
The Portland School Board is holding a public hearing on the proposed school bond measure this evening, Tuesday Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the Blanchard Education Service Center, 501 N. Dixon Street.
Community input – from principals, teachers, parents and community members – already is prompting adjustments to the superintendent’s original proposal. A board committee will review the final package on Tuesday, Dec. 7, before the Portland School Board votes on placing the modernization bond on the May 2011 ballot.
More information about the proposed bond is available online, including a summary of the proposed school modernization plan; a detailed list of improvements proposed for each school; answers to frequently asked questions and.a map of safety, building system and educational updates at schools across the district.

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