Salem’s culture, promising future help to make Oregon a great state

Statesman Journal

Our state was the destination choice for many Oregon Trail pioneers in the largest free overland migration in history. Oregon and the Mid-Willamette Valley are still loved by its new pioneers and homegrown residents.

Located in the heart of the Willamette Valley close to Portland, snow-capped mountains and the beach, the Salem area is a fertile region with a vibrant downtown, a promising economy, good schools and diverse moderation.

Unlike many other cities of its size, downtown Salem is vibrant and the area’s economy shows much potential. Downtown features the Capitol, a university campus, a large public library and civic center, condos, shops, malls, entertainment, parks, a children’s museum, a carousel, a paddle wheel riverboat and a conference center.

Salem’s largest employer is the state government, a stabilizing factor in the local economy. Other top private employers include Salem Hospital, T-Mobile Calling Center and Wells Fargo.

With its fertile soil, the area is the largest agricultural region of the state. Among its other agricultural products, it boasts award-wining wines.

The largest cultural event in the area is the Oregon State Fair, which draws over 380,000 annually. It offers art and other exhibits, concerts, competitions and a carnival.

Salem also boasts one of the top art fairs in the country while Statesman Journal Media serves as the hub that keeps the city informed.

The area has many good schools. Salem-Keizer School District is the second-largest in the state and is recognized as one of the “Best Communities for Music Education” in America. Post-secondary schools include Willamette University (which has been named the best small comprehensive university in the Western United States), Corban University, Tokyo International University, nearby Western Oregon University (the oldest public university in Oregon, it prides itself on attracting students who are the first in their family to attend college) and Chemeketa Community College, which serves over 70,000 students.

The region is also a showcase of diverse moderation. Twenty-two percent of the region is now made up of Hispanics, some of our new pioneers, making the area one of the most ethnically diverse in the state.

There are as many registered Republicans as Democrats and a large percentage of independent voters. Birkenstocks are as prevalent as cowboy boots. There is relatively little disparity between the rich and the poor. And, although not a particularly religious community, a Sikh temple, a Jewish synagogue and many churches are within blocks of each other.

As I am a fifth-generation descendant of Oregon Trail pioneers, the Salem area has been a fertile place for me to grow, live and raise a family. I love our community.

Brent Mobley-Oorthuys of Salem has lived in Oregon for all of his 54 years of life.

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