NORTH BEND — More than 200 local business owners, community members and city officials gathered early Friday morning at The Mill Casino-Hotel in North Bend to attend the 27th annual Bay Area Economic Outlook Forum.

The forum, which was co-hosted by the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and Banner Bank, updated folks on the county’s current economic status as well as reviewed a few upcoming projects.

Developer Greg Drobot speaks about his development project Coos Bay Village at the 27th annual Bay Area Economic Outlook Forum on Friday morning.

Economist Guy Tauer, of the Oregon Employment Department, said despite having a flat population growth over the last several years, job growth in Coos County continues to show steady improvements.

According to Tauer, most of the jobs lost during the Great Recession have in a number of different industries come back both locally and across the country.

“We’ve regained most of those jobs back in Coos County,” said Tauer. “There’s steady, but not speculator growth here in Coos County in terms to our payroll employment.”

The county has regained about 430 jobs over the year including adding over 130 jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry, about 100 jobs in retail trade as well as over 80 jobs in professional and business services industry and over 50 jobs in construction.

The number of unemployed in the county also is very low, said Tauer. In October, the unemployment rate was 5.2 percent — about 1,381 people — and lower than the number of people unemployed pre-recession in April 2007.

With the county having a slightly older and aging population, the demand for labor replacement is also expected to increase in the next 10 years, said Tauer. The healthcare industry is one Tauer pointed out that will see the most job growth as the demand for medical professionals is likely to increase.  

Coos County Commissioner Melissa Cribbins also spoke at Friday’s forum as well as Coos Bay City Manager Rodger Craddock, Clark Walworth, of the Coquille Indian Tribe, Patty Scott, president of Southwestern Oregon Community College and a few other local leaders from the community.

Economist John Mitchell, of M&H Economic Consultants, also spoke Friday about the country’s economic status as the forum’s keynote speaker. The economy, which is currently in its 11th upturn year, is still showing job growth at a stable, steady level.

Greg Drobot, owner of Face Rock Creamery, also gave a presentation Friday morning informing folks of progress on his ongoing development, Coos Bay Village. The multi-use facility, which has about 73,000 square feet of leasable space, will house a number of new offices, restaurants and retail shops.

Economist John Mitchell speaks to more than 200 people gathered for the 27th annual Bay Area Economic Outlook Forum on Friday morning at the M…

Drobot announced at the forum the first three tenants of the new facility, which will be 7 Devils Brewing Co., a Face Rock Creamery retail shop and cafe, and a Starbucks drive-through. The businesses are expected to move into the new facility sometime next fall.

Coos Bay Village will be developed in two phases. Phase one will be completed by fall of 2020 and phase two is expected to be completed by 2021, said Drobot. The site will also feature a waterfront pedestrian boardwalk as well as improved traffic circulation and parking access.   

This year, the forum also highlighted local businesses So It Goes Coffeehouse with owner John Beane, and Highway 101 Harley-Davidson with owner Al Petitt as part of its “Home Grown Business Successes” segment. Both speakers entertained the audience with their humorous anecdotes of what it takes to run a business. 

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Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at amanda.linares@theworldlink.com.