Could a OSU-Cascades expansion boost tourism?

BEND, Ore. (AP) Officials in Bend say expansion of Oregon State University-Cascades Campus into a four-year university could enhance local tourism, and area attractions in turn could attract students to campus.

Proposed expansion could provide space for 5,000 students by 2025. The project needs $16 million in state funding, a figure included in Gov. John Kitzhaber's proposed budget.

Tourism is part of the foundation of Bend's economy, said Doug La Placa, CEO and president of Visit Bend, the city's tourism agency. Leisure and hospitality had the third highest rate of 2012 employment among private-sector industries in Deschutes County, according to the Oregon Employment Department.

University expansion, La Placa told The Bulletin, would mean more faculty and students and people visiting them. Four-year universities also host cultural and academic events that draw visitors, he said.

"Similar to the 2.2 million conventional tourists who visit Bend annually, these university-related tourists will stay at Bend hotels, dine at Bend restaurants, shop in our retail districts and spend money at local businesses," said La Placa, a member of the OSU-Cascades board of advisers.

The school already provides training for the industry.

During the 2002-03 school year, OSU-Cascades became the first Oregon university to offer a bachelor's degree in tourism and outdoor leadership.

Becky Johnson, OSU vice president in charge of the branch, said partnerships in tourism would be important for enrollment.

Housing OSU-Cascades' graduate programs in a building on a main route to the Mount Bachelor ski area would help with recruitment and outreach.

"We have a partnership with the High Desert Museum, where we sponsor some exhibits and have some students working there," she said. "Anyone who visits the High Desert Museum, I want them to know that there's a four-year university here."


Information from: The Bulletin

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.