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Old 07-16-2009, 01:09 AM
 
Location: Portland Metro
2,300 posts, read 4,134,915 times
Reputation: 2732

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I've lived in Corvallis for 11 years, and it's now time to say goodbye. There's some sadness about the move, and uprooting my family to move to the Portland area, but I'm looking forward to the new adventures that await.

A little background: I spent 10 years with one employer in town (not HP, OSU, or the hospital). I got laid off in May of 2008 and embarked on the most intense job search of my career. I spent that entire summer looking for something in my field. We weren't planning to move, so I concentrated my search in the Corvallis/Albany area. After a couple of months I expanded my search to include the entire Salem to Eugene corridor, figuring I would make the commute. I got one job offer in Salem--a 30% cut in pay with a commitment of only 11 months of work. Finally in September 2008 the right offer came in Portland, and we made the tough decision to relocate. Again, not what we wanted, but you have to grab the opportunities where you can. The kids finished out school in Corvallis while I've been commuting to Portland for the last 10 months.

My observations: Corvallis really is an exceptional community. There's great community involvement, and livability is terrific. But I'm afraid that the economic trend over the last several years will be hard to overcome. HP has gone from nearly 10,000 employees in its heyday to about 2000 now. That direction doesn't seem to be changing--they certainly don't seem to be doing much if any hiring. The University is still a major employer, but finding employment there is difficult. Jobs that aren't in faculty or administration are usually either service jobs with low pay or research jobs (the most likely job for me) that are grant funded with short employment commitments. Not really something you want to hang your career hat on when you're in your 40s.

Maybe an economic upturn will reverse this trend, but if it continues I see four major groups making up the population of the town: 1) people with solid jobs at HP, OSU, or in the health care field; 2) students; 3) retirees; and 4) everyone else who works in low-paying service industries to support 1, 2, and 3. This is a generalization, and of course there are people who don't fit into these categories, but the fact is that Corvallis just isn't the same as it was in the late-1990s and prior when HP was buzzing and spinning off other supporting industries.

If I sound a little bitter, I don't mean to. I love Corvallis, and still have family and friends there. I would consider retiring there when the time comes. I'm just being realistic that it seems that employment opportunities are becoming more scarce. If you consider the recession of the early 1990s, I think Benton County proved it was relatively recession-proof, thanks in large part to HP's growth. But the trend over the last 6-7 years has created an employment situation that may not rebound as strongly when the economy turns around.

Bottom line: if you are interested in putting down roots in a smallish community that is safe, has good schools, is terrifically bikeable, and has a good community feel, you'd be hard pressed to find a better community than Corvallis. Just make sure you have a solid job commitment first!
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Old 07-16-2009, 08:43 PM
 
Location: Portland, OR
9,792 posts, read 10,642,738 times
Reputation: 9712
Hmmm... people are leaving Portland saying much the same things as you. It's ok to own your bitterness, unfortunately I don't think it does any good to air it out in open forum. What we need is to fuel all this mamby pamby angst, bitterness and confusion into rage. I mean RAGE!!!

H!!!
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:27 AM
 
Location: Portland Metro
2,300 posts, read 4,134,915 times
Reputation: 2732
Well, it's cathartic to me to put down in words what I've been feeling over the past year. And if the internet isn't a tool for anonymous self-serving venting, then what's it for?

Also, I'm not much of a "rage" person.
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:10 AM
 
Location: Salem, OR
14,791 posts, read 35,861,565 times
Reputation: 14806
One of the reasons the Oregon economist was speculating that unemployment is so high is because people are trying to hard to not leave their cities and move.

I KNOW there are many people like jjpop that are struggling with leaving places and homes they love. HP has been dying for years and it continues to downsize. We have many Salemites that are forced to relocate due to the downsizing of HP. None of them are happy either.

Leisesturm, I don't see bitterness from those folks, but more of a meloncholy. They are just sad to be forced to move.
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Old 07-17-2009, 04:11 PM
 
Location: Lakewood OH
21,697 posts, read 25,414,847 times
Reputation: 35681
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silverfall View Post
One of the reasons the Oregon economist was speculating that unemployment is so high is because people are trying to hard to not leave their cities and move.

I KNOW there are many people like jjpop that are struggling with leaving places and homes they love. HP has been dying for years and it continues to downsize. We have many Salemites that are forced to relocate due to the downsizing of HP. None of them are happy either.

Leisesturm, I don't see bitterness from those folks, but more of a meloncholy. They are just sad to be forced to move.
Very well put. I think you really got what the OP said. There has to be a certain amount of sadness and maybe even a bit of bitterness when one is forced to make a decision they must make.
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Old 07-20-2009, 03:54 PM
 
1,313 posts, read 6,042,421 times
Reputation: 1995
I lived in Corvallis for twelve years and understand what you are going through. Corvallis is like the state of Oregon in general: it leans heavily on a few key economic foundations. When those are doing well the whole city (and state) flourishes. When they don't, the whole city (and state) founders.
For some people, Corvallis offers good job security. But that is true mostly for people who are long-established in university and hospital positions. One of the more attractive things about Corvallis is also one of its downfalls -- it has a highly educated populace. If you are pursuing a career that is rooted in any kind of university education you will have lots of competition for job openings in Corvallis.

If you managed to get your kids through the K-12 system in Corvallis before moving, you're lucky. A forced move is never as pleasant as a discretional one. And yet I found that after twelve years Corvallis was starting to wear thin for me. I still sometimes go to Da Vinci Days and visit at other times. I enjoy reconnecting with the place but also remember why I left. Nice is nice, but...sooner or later familiarity starts to breed contempt and I found that moving from Corvallis offered a fresh horizon. Portland has a lot to offer. You're probably quite familiar with it already if you've lived in Corvallis for ten years, but you're lucky to get a good job offer there. On various other forums there are people who would give their eye teeth for a chance to relocate to Portland. You have managed to stay among the employed, something that has eluded one out of six residents of this state.
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Old 07-20-2009, 09:40 PM
 
Location: Portland Metro
2,300 posts, read 4,134,915 times
Reputation: 2732
Thanks for the kind words, Steve. A friend of mine joked that Corvallis "chewed me up and spit me out" which is hilarious considering how low-key Corvallis is, but the comment was not entirely untrue. If it looked like all we had to do was wait out this economic storm for a new long-term employment opportunity we would never have moved away, but that just doesn't seem realistic there anymore.

At least my kids are at early elementary level, so I don't think the transition will be too bad. And we have a great social network in Portland already established (made up of a significant number of ex-Corvallisites--go figure!) And I do feel fortunate that I have a good job here. I know a lot of people are hurting.
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Old 07-21-2009, 09:47 AM
 
758 posts, read 2,186,352 times
Reputation: 344
I don't see any bitterness here on jjpop's part - that's how Corvallis is. The decline of HP led to the closure of a decent-sized injection molding facility, which supplied us, as well has HP (which it was built to supply).

It will come back, but it will take a long time. Please note, it's USUALLY hard to find work even in Portland - the easy times were an anomaly.
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Old 08-24-2009, 05:19 AM
 
10 posts, read 26,605 times
Reputation: 12
The comments on the current economic situation in Corvallis are very interesting.
I plan to move to Corvallis in about 10 years. What do you think the economy will be like then?
Also, I plan to buy a house in Corvallis in 2010 and rent it out. What do you think?
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Old 08-24-2009, 02:37 PM
 
739 posts, read 1,704,110 times
Reputation: 813
I thought jjpop's post was thoughtful and concise. Here is a person who left his home for job purposes despite not wanting to do so. This economy is affecting so many people in adverse ways.

mxpl if you find someone who has a handle on what the economy in Corvallis or Timbuktu will be like in the next ten years (or the next ten minutes for that matter) please give me his/her name!
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