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In my opinion

by Doug Whitsett

2/18/08

Dear Editor:

Completion of the second phase of the Martha Anne Dow Oregon Center for Health Professions at the Oregon Institute of Technology continues to be both a good business decision and a wise investment in Oregonís future. Completion of the building is critical to the expansion of programs required to educate the backlog of qualified students desperately needed by the health care professions. The money the legislature has already authorized has been more than matched by local contributions and is being used to build the shell of the building. This construction is being completed with the expectation that the remaining bonding authority will be provided to finish the project. Matching funds for the $3.5 million bond required to finish the building are already dedicated.

The partially constructed building cannot be used until its interior is completed. Without this last piece of bonding, the building will sit empty, producing nothing, while costing more than $400,000 each year in interest. The estimated price of waiting is an additional $400,000 each year in increased construction cost. However, the real loss is the new health care professionals that wonít be training for service in our communities

The completed facility is scheduled to graduate 160 additional health care professional students each year. These graduates will fill newly created jobs with starting salaries estimated to average $65,000 per year. In just the first five years the cumulative graduates from the new facility would be estimated to pay nearly $8 million in new income taxes to the state of Oregon Ėeven in the unlikely event that they did not receive pay raises during those five years.

The building is an important and cost effective investment in Oregonís future because it will help to fill the urgent need for future health care professionals. The federal government has estimated that by 2025 Oregon will have the fourth highest percentage of citizens over 65 years of age in the nation. The Oregon Department of Employment estimates that by 2014 Oregon will require more than 50,000 additional health care professionals to maintain current service levels. The programs at OIT are uniquely situated to provide graduate health professionals to fill that need.

In conclusion, the students, faculty, and high tech equipment to make these critically needed programs a reality are in hand. Only the finished building space that will be created by the $3.5 million bonding authority is required to make it happen within the next year.

 
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