Coming back home
Prineville. For many, it is your hometown. It is familiar and comfortable. Full of friendly morning waves, clerks and waiters who know your name, and, other than during hunting season, a three-minute commute from one end of the town to another.
But for others, as great as Prineville may seem, they strive to get out. Venture beyond the rimrock. They want to leave the simplicity and what is familiar for the excitement and variety of a larger city. They want to explore and see what is out there that Prineville cannot provide.
Moving away definitely has its advantages. There are educational and occupational opportunities not available here. An entire world of different cultures, foods, languages, entertainment and people. Moving away to pursue an education and a career is noble. And it's commended by our schools and our leaders. But I'd like to offer a new approach. Leave. Learn. Experience. Then come back.
Thinking back to 2009, Crook County had an unemployment rate of more than 20 percent. There were no jobs, and there was little reason to stay here. Many high school graduates left and didn't look to return. Those who lost their jobs locally moved out of Prineville since employment was almost impossible to find.
Now, fast forward to current-day conditions. Our county is at one of the lowest unemployment rates we have had in more than 20 years. An online job search recently came up with more than 100 open positions in fields such as healthcare, management, education, transportation and more. We have a major new industry in town with the appearance of two data centers, and more companies are looking to move here. Our cost of living, quality of life and slow-paced lifestyle are very attractive to those looking to get out of the big city rush. The town is growing and thriving, and our city and county have planned ahead and have the infrastructure to keep it going.
With all of that in mind, you will see the Chamber partnering with the county and others on a campaign to bring people back to Prineville. Encourage your family and friends to come back and fill the numerous job openings. Breathe the fresh air and remember what it's like to be 10 minutes from hiking, biking or boating. Reconnect with old family and friends. Enjoy our blue skies and starry nights. Wave to people — even strangers — and smile and engage in conversations. Come and hear birds in the mornings, have shorter commutes, and see the mountains and trees. Come home again.
Kim Daniels is the executive director of the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at 541-447-6304.