Jimmy Carter photo

Portland, Oregon Remarks at a Reception for Community Leaders.

May 04, 1978

Governor Straub and Mayor Goldschmidt, Congressman Bob Duncan and Jim Weaver, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, and my friends from the great State of Oregon:

I've enjoyed being in your State every time I've come. You've always received me with open arms and open hearts, and even when I was almost completely unknown and struggling almost by myself, looking for friends, you gave me a chance to cook hotcakes and to serve them, with Bob Straub, and we came within just a few votes of carrying Oregon, which will always be gratifying to me.

I was pleased to have a chance to conduct a regional press conference a few minutes ago. They always bring up the polls, and they always bring up the economy. One thing I've found is every time our poll rating goes down, the stock market goes up. [Laughter] So maybe I've found a way to solve the economic problems of our country.

This has been a very delightful trip. I was in Denver for an afternoon and the following morning. We made a major announcement on the enhancement of solar energy in our country. One of the major centers for the Nation will be there, as you know, in the Golden area, and we also know that Portland will be a major regional center, as well, for the development of solar power.

We've got a wonderful opportunity this year, in these early stages of my own administration, to work out some good policies that have long been neglected. Denver faces serious problems that you don't face. They have the highest air pollution rate in Denver of any city in our country; the most automobiles per capita. Is a matter of fact, their carbon monoxide rate is three times higher than the maximum Federal standards permit.

And we tried to launch, with 41 different Federal agencies, a concerted effort there to bring down this very serious problem of particulates and carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, sulfur oxides, in that one beautiful city of our country. The essence of it is that the Federal Regional Council, my own staff in the White House, every Federal agency involved, the mayor of that city, Denver, the Governor, worked in concert with the congressional delegation to solve a serious problem.

We did the same thing last year in dealing with what was the crisis, as you remember, 16 months ago, 12 months ago, and that was the extremely high unemployment rate in our country. It was about 8 percent. We brought it down now to just a little above 6 percent. We added a net of 4.1 million jobs in the country, an unprecedented achievement. The Congress, I, many of you, worked in harmony.

These problems are difficult to solve. There are no easy answers. The Government can't do everything. And I think the beauty of the efforts that I've just described to you, those two examples, are that the private sector of our economy, just individual citizens, business, labor, with government at all levels, work together on a common problem.

You've got a wonderful city here, wonderful State. The beauty has never been in danger. And I know that you have natural resources and an intense interest in international affairs because of your foreign trade, one of the finest seaports in the world, and a lot to be thankful for in your great State. You've got some wonderful public officials to take care of your needs.

A little over a month ago, after 14 months of hard work, I announced a comprehensive urban policy for our Nation; one of the most difficult and intransigent challenges that we could possibly face.

Neil Goldschmidt told me on the way that he had studied it in detail, and he thinks it's a remarkable achievement. It's not based on new, expensive programs as a cornerstone of the effort, but it's based on making the present programs work better and then adding only incrementally in additional expenditures to round out needs that previously have not been addressed.

It is a policy that calls for an effective working alliance at all levels of government, again with the private sector, including business, labor, and just ordinary citizens in their communities and neighborhoods.

Its purpose is to serve individual communities, not just the badly deteriorated and damaged cities that are almost beyond salvation, not just the major metropolitan urban centers, but even good, sound, solid communities like Portland. And Portland is a good example of what can be accomplished with this kind of cooperation that I've just described to you.

Under the good leadership of Mayor Goldschmidt and Governor Straub, the city and State governments, business and labor, the community groups, have been working with the Economic Development Administration, the EDA, to develop a far-reaching economic investment strategy for Portland.

I think this State probably had the greatest reduction percentage-wise in unemployment last year of any with which I am familiar, almost 3 1/2 percent, a remarkable achievement, which shows not only good administration in Washington and also in Oregon— [laughter] —but it also shows that the people of Oregon want to work if they are given a chance and given an opportunity for a job.

This evening, I'm very pleased to be able to announce some specific and substantial Federal support for the joint efforts that I've just described. Through the Economic Development Administration, $12 million will be provided during the next 18 months to strengthen Portland's economy and to create 6,000 more private jobs in your community.

This is a carefully evolved plan, initiated and, in effect, supervised by local and State officials, not (federal) 1 Government officials. The first phase will revitalize the northwest industrial district by improving road access and other facilities. EDA will provide about $2 1/2 million for this purpose, about two-thirds of the total cost. The second phase will improve the Swan Island Industrial Park, develop other— [applause] —somebody is from Swan Island—develop other industrial facilities, and establish a revolving loan fund for business expansion. It will start in the coming fiscal year and will include $9.6 million in Federal funds.

1 Printed in the transcript.

Our urban policies and assistance are not just restricted to cities like your own. We recognize that preserving the special values of urban, suburban, and rural life depends on realizing how interdependent they are. There's no way for Portland to thrive unless other communities around you—up the river, down the river, up and down the coast—thrive along with it.

There's no way for the urban dwellers here to thrive, unless the forest timber producers and the farmers and the livestock producers also thrive. We recognize that preserving the special values of these component parts of our society are crucial to one another.

In this spirit, EDA has been working with towns and communities in Oregon on development projects involving fishing industry development, tourism and recreation, and light industrial park development in your smaller communities, all of which involve an overall EDA investment of about $7 million.

You and the other people in Portland are demonstrating what I strongly believe, that a cooperative partnership among Federal, State, and local governments and private business is the best way to generate the economic growth and the job opportunities that our communities need.

I'm proud of what we've done so far. It demonstrates that government can work. It demonstrates the strength of the American economy, something that's often forgotten. And I think it's good for all of us to be boosters not only of our own local communities but of our Nation.

I think a large part of some of our economic problems are caused by people always talking about the transient problems that we experience and not remembering that our Nation is the strongest, most dynamic, the most highly blessed by God of any nation on Earth. We have an underlying strength that's unshakable. So, we can weather the transient problems that we've faced, if we continue to work together.

That's what I'm committed to do. And with your help, we'll continue to see Portland one of the finest places to live in all the world.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 8:20 p.m. in the Pavilion Room at the Portland Hilton Hotel.

Jimmy Carter, Portland, Oregon Remarks at a Reception for Community Leaders. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/245669

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