BEND, OR -- A new community coalition has formed in an effort to ensure a four-year university comes to Bend. "Now for Bend" has launched a website and just released a new poll showing 60 percent of respondents favor a campus on the west side of Bend, while 35 percent oppose it.
Jane Teater is the co-coordinator for Now for Bend. She tells KBND, "I feel like it's way too important to slip out of our grasp at this time. If we were to wait and allow people who are focusing on issues of growth, which are traffic, parking, housing -- which are all very valid issues. But, if we allow issues of growth to be the deterrent, we perhaps lose the opportunity to have higher education here, for at least this generation, and perhaps, permanently."
Teater says the group is hoping to counter Truth in Site's aggressive attempts to stop the campus expansion. "What I think is not being talked about is there is no other site, there's no perfect site, but there's no other site for this campus. This is the only location with a sizeable portion of land inside the UGB. Everything else would be 10 to perhaps 20 years off, and the big thing is we risk losing our funding from the legislature."
She feels a four-year university is the missing piece when it comes to opportunities for education and economic advancement. "Bend is going to grow with or without a university. A university brings smart growth; a university brings stability, economical innovation; it gives opportunities for a skilled workforce. Since we started this endeavor, there isn't a day that goes by that someone doesn't say to us 'I can't hire a skilled workforce.' We need this opportunity. The university has done a spectacular job of developing curriculum and programs and areas of degrees that are in response to the needs of our region."
Now for Bend has 55 partners, made up of private citizens, businesses and civic organizations.