Note from PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton regarding Outdoor School For All Ballot Initiative

A year ago, we posted on this website information advocating for a ballot initiative to cement funding for Outdoor School in Oregon. This post is meant to share additional information with you on this initiative and highlight the dilemma it now poses for athletic & outdoor companies in Oregon.

As the previous blog post highlights, Outdoor School is a critical educational experience that should be available to all Oregon children regardless of economic circumstances. Unfortunately, it has now become apparent that the source of funding identified in the proposed initiative is lottery dollars currently used by the state to help small businesses and create jobs throughout Oregon.

While the lottery contributed nearly $770 million to its Economic Development Fund in 2015, most of that money funded other activities, including debt service, gambling addiction programs, and contributions to the state school fund. Only $66 million was actually spent on economic development, primarily by supporting the work of Business Oregon and the Oregon Film Office. These two entities are critical players in statewide economic development infrastructure.

If the Outdoor School initiative passes, the impact to the next biannual budget could be as much as $44 million, which will have to come directly from funds allocated to Business Oregon and the Oregon Film Office.

The athletic & outdoor industry should know that Business Oregon supports economic development efforts that serve the state’s smallest and neediest communities as well as our urban centers. As the state’s economic development arm, Business Oregon has worked with an array of small and medium-sized companies to increase productivity, revenue, and jobs by providing access to export assistance, lean manufacturing, and business development resources. These efforts produce and retain thousands of jobs each year, and generate millions in economic output.

While the economy is strong in the Portland region, unemployment rates remain high in rural communities throughout Oregon, and when this economic cycle runs its course, the Portland region will need the assistance of the state to help small businesses expand and put people back to work.

The reality is that two worthy programs are in a zero sum competition for the same dollars. The values of athletic and outdoor companies are naturally aligned with the objectives of outdoor school and STEM-based education to kids in Oregon, but also with the role small businesses play in providing jobs and prosperity to Oregon communities. Companies and individuals, armed with accurate and complete information, should decide for themselves.

For more information on Business Oregon:
For more information on the Oregon Film Office:
For more information on the Outdoor School for All campaign: