Umatilla County residents will be able to greatly impact the future of the region economically and educationally when voting on Measure 30-96.

The bond measure is to renew an existing capital improvement bond for Blue Mountain Community College. If passed by voters, BMCC?officials intend to use the approximately $28 million to construct three facilities that will enhance agriculture and workforce development educational opportunities for students, including a sustainable precision irrigated agriculture center in Hermiston.

The benefits of the bond passage on Nov. 5 would be two-fold. First, it would allow BMCC to provide additional educational opportunities for students. Second, those educational opportunities involve creating or building upon programs that directly tie into the area’s economy: agriculture.

Agriculture is the driving economic engine in the region, not only through the crops grown and livestock raised but with the supporting, offshoot businesses and industries, as well.

According to the Oregon State Department of Agriculture, in 2012, precision irrigated agriculture had an economic value of $1.8 billion in Umatilla and Morrow counties and represented approximately 50 percent of all employment.

With the construction of three new facilities devoted to agriculture and workforce development, Umatilla and Morrow county residents can expect those numbers to rise.

Students throughout the region and beyond can attend BMCC and receive a comprehensive and tailored education directly linked to agriculture in the region.

When they leave, students will have an education and skills that they can take to regional agricultural businesses and operations to help propel them — and this county — into the future.

Businesses and companies involved in irrigated agriculture in the area will also have a ready workforce tailor-available to them.

While voting on measures that will affect taxpayers’ pocketbooks is sometimes uncomfortable, we feel Bond Measure 30-96 is a worthwhile investment that will bring a great deal of bang for the bucks.

If BMCC’s capital improvement bond measure passes, everybody will win.

With the passage of the bond measure, voters will not only be improving educational opportunities for students, they will also be helping to improve and advance economic development in the region.

We strongly encourage voters to approve Bond Measure 30-96.

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