Almost a year ago we wrote about, with some excitement, the Oregon Leadership Summit #5 and how the business leaders in Oregon were committing to branding our state and region as world leaders of sustainable development. Summit #6, held earlier this week in Portland, focused on “taking this commitment to the next stage of action.”

The big topics of the day were “moving forward on transportation” and “proposals to gain green advantage.” Dignataries participating in the summit included our governor, both US senators, and several state representatives and senators. Several new initiative proposals were prepared for discussion, such as Oregon as a Center for Sustainability Learning by Mark Edlen of Gerding/Edlen Development and Sue Bragdon of the Oregon University System.

The Oregonian article about the summit is not particularly encouraging. I like this part:

Attendees were asked to vote electronically on the question, “Do you support the Oregon Business Plan’s strategy to distinguish Oregon as a global leader in sustainable economic development?”

Of the 600 or so who voted, 96 percent clicked on their remote-control voting machines that they supported or strongly supported the move. Three percent said they were neutral, while 1 percent was strongly opposed.

With that kind of support, we should be moving full steam ahead. But the article goes on to focus on participants who are concerned that promoting sustainability won’t bring in many manufacturing or other middle class jobs. To me, new manufacturing opportunities are part of the solution, but I thought the whole idea was to brand Oregon as sustainable and green in order to attract the new generation of green businesses and manufacturing jobs. Transportation alternatives, innovation, energy-efficiency, local food and a healthy environment are even more critical factors as we move forward into the knowledge and experience economies.

Let’s hope Oregon’s leaders came away from the conference with new energy. With Oregon’s green reputation, leveraging a statewide mission and vision is just sitting in front of us. Pringle Creek, with its national green development award, has proven itself a showcase for this vision. I would like to see the rest of Salem doing more to connect to this huge movement. Oregon’s capital should be emblematic of sustainability and connected to this mega-trend.