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A study completed by online financial organization analyzes GDP, business growth

According to a recent study, the Crook County economy has among the most incoming investments in the entire state.

SmartAsset, an online resource for consumer-focused financial information and advice that powers SmartAdvisor, a national marketplace connecting consumers to financial advisors, ranks the county second overall on an index that looks at business growth, gross domestic product (GDP) growth and the quantity of new building permits. Only Deschutes County attained a higher ranking while Jefferson County is ranked six in the state.

"Our study aims to identify the places across the U.S. that are receiving the most incoming investments in sectors such as business, real estate, government and the local economy as a whole," SmartAsset explains in its study. "To do this, we compared the change in the number of businesses established in each location throughout a three-year period to determine whether or not people are starting new business ventures in each county."

The study states that increases in local GDP signify growth in the local economy. The study then considered investment and development in the local residential real estate market, with SmartAsset measuring growth by calculating the number of new building permits per 1,000 homes.

"We scored every county in our study on these three factors," the study states. "We then combined those scores to create a final ranking of counties. With that ranking, we created an index where the county with the most incoming investments was assigned a value of 100 and the county with the least investment activity received a zero."

Crook County's index was 49.48, while Deschutes scored an index of 56.94 and Jefferson County was given an index score of 41.99, missing the top five ranking by one tenth of a point.

The study ranked each county on the individual metrics from the study as well. Crook County ranked fourth in business growth, with a 7.8% increase over a three-year period. Deschutes County (11.3%) and Jefferson County (8.9%) ranked first and second. Crook County fared better in quantity of new building permits, ranking second with 21.8 permits per thousand homes. Deschutes again ranked first with 26.4 permits and Jefferson County ranked seventh with 9.8 permits. None of the Central Oregon counties ranked in the top five for GDP growth. Deschutes County again received the highest ranking (6) for a GDP increase of $317 million. Crook and Jefferson counties were among the lowest ranked counties, with Crook County at 26 for a $23 million increase and Jefferson County at 28 for an increase of $17 million.

Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) commits a variety of resources and business recruitment effort to Crook County that has resulted in the addition of two major data centers and other new companies.

"We mainly focus on traded sector businesses, which sell a majority of their goods and services outside of the region," said Kelsie Lucas, Crook County's economic development manager with EDCO. "For recruitment, a lot of our leads come either through the state or through partner organizations like bankers and brokers and occasionally from local government or the companies directly."

She added that EDCO provides help with enterprise zone tax exemptions, business intelligence, market research for companies that are considering the community and more recently, wage data so that companies can offer competitive compensation.

"Housing has been a big one recently," Lucas said, "working with policymakers and with local builders and developers to make sure there is workforce housing available."


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