HERMISTON — The Eastern Oregon Women’s Coalition is gathering big names and big companies in Hermiston to discuss the economic status of the region.

“The inaugural Eastern Oregon Economic Summit will offer in-depth discussion about factors affecting rural Oregon’s economy, from the impacts of legislation enacted during the 2019 session to changes in technology, demographics and environmental resources,” a press release states.

Coalition President Bobby Levy said the event, which is slated for July 26 at Hermiston High School, differs from other economic summits because it targets the entirety of Eastern Oregon rather than a specific city or county.

“In visiting with private and public sector leaders, there was no singular event to address Eastern Oregon’s economic issues or how to grow rural Oregon’s presence in Salem and beyond,” she wrote in an email. “This summit will bring a wide variety of issues under one roof and help attendees leverage the area’s economic growth. We intend for this to be an annual event.”

Levy added that the coalition has organized a governor’s luncheon during Round-Up week for the past six years.

The summit has already booked speeches from U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, as well as two members of the state Legislature’s northeast Oregon delegation — state Rep. Greg Smith, and state Sen. Bill Hansell. Walden's speech may be given via live video.

The event will also features talks from leaders at PAE ISR, a Virginia-based defense contractor that has based its West Coast drone operations in Pendleton, and Woodgrain Millworks, a Fruitland, Idaho, moulding manufacturer that bought sawmills in Pilot Rock and La Grande in 2018.

In the afternoon, the summit will transition to discussion panels that will cover various economic topics, including state and federal policy, housing, natural resources, broadband, and business recruitment.

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The panel of speakers for the summit was updated July 12.

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