Oregon’s Media Economy: An Impact Analysis of the Celluloid Forest

By Robert Parker

According to the Oregon Governor’s Office on Film and Media (known as Oregon Film), “Oregon’s history in the media industry dates back to the silent film era of the early 1900s. Several of the earliest “studios” were located here, and since then over 400 feature films and television projects have been produced in Oregon (as well as hundreds of commercials and interactive games). ”

Oregon Film promotes the development of the film, television, commercial, and interactive industry in Oregon. Oregon Film works to increase revenues, profile, and reputation of Film and Media both within and outside Oregon. In short, it’s Oregon Film’s job to advocate for development of Oregon’s media sector.

Oregon Film has several incentive programs used a tools used to recruit out-of-state productions as well as help locally-owned companies to become more competitive. Oregon is not unique in using this type of tool to bolster the local media sector. Incentive programs are offered in at least 36 states, as well as in Canada. Broadly, the purpose of the incentive programs is to expand Oregon’s media sector. Here are a few of the recent productions supported by Oregon Film:

You can keep up with current events in Oregon’s media sector at “The Confluence,” a media focused blog.

In February, 2017 CSC completed a project for Oregon Film titled “Oregon’s Growing Media Sector: Perceptions and Impacts.” CSC worked in cooperation with the Northwest Economic Research Center (NeRC) at Portland State University on the project. You can access the NeRC report here. With respect to the economic impacts of the media sector, NeRC concludes:

In 2007 total economic impacts of the media sector were $1.39 billion in economic output, $625 million in labor and other income, and 13,336 jobs. The sector experienced continued growth and in 2011 total economic impacts were $1.42 billion in economic output, $724 million in labor and other income, and 12,243 jobs.

Based on survey responses and interviews, Oregon Film incentives appear to be expanding opportunities for professionals and businesses within the media sector.

  • Oregon firms are more competitive. The incentive programs have allowed Oregon-headquartered businesses to become more competitive when attracting out of state work and offer a higher quality of work to other indigenous companies at a price those companies can afford. These companies have invested money into equipment that will allow them to continue handling specialized work and further grow their businesses.
  • Incentives create jobs. The incentives contributed to the sampled Oregon companies being able to produce an estimated 276 projects. These additional productions resulted in an estimated 203 full time equivalent positions. A strong majority of respondents intend to grow their business within the next five years. Nearly all the businesses felt that Oregon Film incentives would help them with their planned growth. The NeRC report supports this finding, concluding “Incentivized productions directly provided an over 1500 above-average wage jobs and an annual average total of $93 million in income to Oregonians working in the industries between 2012 and 2015.”
  • Incentives attract productions to Oregon. The incentive programs are also bringing productions from other states to Oregon. These productions are providing large numbers of jobs to Oregonians. Survey respondents estimated that they hired more than 3,000 Oregonians for work on their projects. The number of additional employees they stated they hired because of receiving incentives ranged from a couple of freelancers to over 600. While most these positions were part-time or limited duration, they contribute to Oregon’s economy and in aggregate provided incomes for many media sector professionals within the state. These jobs pay a higher wage than many occupations in Oregon.

The results of the CSC study clearly conclude that the incentive programs administered by Oregon Film have an impact. The incentives are helping indigenous businesses expand, attracting out of state productions to Oregon, and improving perceptions of the media sector business climate in Oregon. Moreover, our research shows that Oregon Film is highly respected by media sector professionals, is doing a good job of administering the incentive programs, and is providing a high level of customer service. It also suggests that expanded incentive programs would support additional growth in the sector and support emerging areas such as video games.

The Power of Conversation

By Emily Gluckin

If there is one thing that my RARE position has taught me, it is the power of simply talking to people. All of the progress I have made thus far is all thanks to conversations and tapping into my network.

I spent the first two months of my service with the Polk County Tourism Alliance reaching out and meeting with as many different players in the county’s tourism landscape as possible: city staff, business owners, chamber directors, local citizens, local groups, etc. The purpose of these conversations was for me to learn what the current state of tourism is, and what the challenges and opportunities are for each stakeholder. I also traveled to different places in the county to experience the destinations and assets that the county has to offer (sounds rough, but somebody’s got to do it!). This was crucial in helping me learn what I was entering into and giving me a holistic view of the communities that I am working with. Because tourism touches so many different groups in Polk County, it has been really interesting learning about the topic from a variety of angles. Now backed with a better knowledge of what is going on and what kinds of questions to ask, these conversations have become productive and have created some momentum.

The magical thing about simply talking with people is that great connections usually come out of it, especially in a tight-knit network like Polk County. Talking with one of the steering committee members about her involvement in a camera club resulted in a donation of hundreds of beautiful high-resolution photographs of the county from a local photographer. A meeting with the county’s extension office encouraged them to include Polk County in their survey of agritourism operators. A member of an action team offered her connection to bloggers in the area for publicity. These are just a few examples of successes that have come out of conversations. This is the beauty of an effort that encompasses a wide range of people; everyone has unique skills and connections to offer that will ultimately further the goals of the group as a whole.

This process has also taught me to be flexible. While I keep certain tasks and goals in mind, I recognize that these conversations and opportunities that arise will mean that my work plan may be ever shifting. I have also learned that sometimes the answer lies right in front of you, all you have to do is ask around.

As an extrovert, I love talking to anyone who will listen, meeting new people, and seeing how we could work together going forward. Luckily, the people of Polk County have been more than willing to share their stories and listen to mine. This community is full of committed people, strong connections, and rich opportunities, and we are our own greatest resource.

A bit about Emily Gluckin:

  • B.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainability Studies and a minor in Green Building and Community Design – University of Vermont
  • People may be surprised when they learn that between ages 10 and 14 I lived in Zurich, Switzerland. I was immersed in a culture that was a big contrast to my life in a small town in suburban Connecticut. I learned German, how to navigate public transportation, how to make quick friends in an International school, and how to be a citizen of the world. It created a personal drive to continue learning about and exploring new places. I believe I would be a completely different person without that experience.
  • My most significant accomplishment that I am proud of is the complete on of a large-scale public art installation that I was the project manager of during my previous AmeriCorps service in Montana. The project, known as the Helena Bike Tower, had been in the works for several years before I took the position, and a er 11 months of blood, sweat, and tears (literally)

Does community development work interest you?  Are you looking for a life changing experience in rural Oregon?  Learn more about serving with the RARE AmeriCorps Program via our website: https://rare.uoregon.edu/