A very interesting development is taking place in Oroville. As with all small towns, there is an ebb and flow associated with the national economy. Many small towns have built in damage control measures (learning from the 2008 financial crash) so they are not drastically affected by downturns in the economy.
In Oroville, keeping main street fresh, alive, and vibrant should be one of the top agenda items for the Mayor and his team. They are the paid personnel whose responsibility it is to manage the town, its tax base, its development, and ultimately are responsible for anything good or bad taking place in their jurisdiction.
The uniqueness of Oroville based on its location in the state should be a constant and continuous planning point when addressing anything from tourism, financial growth, infrastructure growth, etc.
Any regular town, based on its location has many roads or arteries of access to its downtown area. The more means of being able to access any town increases the chances of recognition of product, which associates with increased sales, which helps provide a stable growth platform for community development and community expansion. This is not the case for Oroville.
Oroville is literally an island unto itself. It is backed up to a secure border area with one main arterial (Highway 97) for access to the downtown area. Based on this information alone, the odds are greatly reduced for Oroville to attract new business on a regular basis. Couple that with its addiction to Canadian shoppers and it spells a recipe for disaster without proper planning and development in place. Combine that with items 1 thru 9 listed below and Oroville has a very tough 2016 coming up.
(The following reasons listed below are going to present a very hard year for all businesses in the Oroville area with the exception of orchards (and their related infrastructure), gas stations, storage facilities, marijuana growers, and grocery stores.)
The reasons are:
1. Increased interest rates across the board
2. Inflation is rising and will continue to rise
3. Less and less Canadian buying power for purchasing in the Oroville area (predicted Canadian traffic to be down over 35%)
4. The price of oil continuing to stay below $60.00 dollars a barrel. Canada’s whole economy is based on oil revenue and investments. Even if oil gets to $60.00 a barrel by July or August of 2016, Canada’s economy will not correct itself until early 2017.
5. 38% increase in online shopping with free deliveries. ( UPS and FEDEX are all over the Okanogan highlands everyday)
6. Lower gas prices. This does not translate into shopping locally, this translates into increased shopping activity at Walmart and Home Depot in Omak.
7. Increased Federal interest rates on all money lending (will have a trickle down effect on all large purchasing in the area)
8. The loss of Ace Hardware, its taxable revenue for the city, the loss of employment for local workers and their taxable income.
9. The potential for an immediate fill for the Ace Store with another business that will generate a “whip lash” affect but not increase overall stability in the community for 2016.
Knowing the above information is available to anyone, I’m sure the Oroville leadership has been proactive and developed contingency plans for addressing the upcoming fiscal year. I’m just not aware of what these contingency plans might be and if they could share this information in a public forum like the Gazette-Tribune, that would be outstanding.
The only alternative would be the Oroville leadership responding to situations in a reactive mode. As everyone knows, if your operational success depends on being reactive to situations, you are not out in front of the problem and ultimately, you never will be.
This begs the question, is Oroville leadership happy with the way things are?