It’s a watershed moment in Oregon when 1000 Friends of Oregon, Labor Unions and Business groups all support a piece of legislation. This is the case with SB 766, which speeds up the permitting process for industrial projects that will have a major impact on jobs and incomes in a community, and it protects large tracts of significant industrial land from conversion to other uses or expensive overlays that are not required by state and federal law. The bill sets up an “Economic Recovery Review Council,” administered by the Oregon Business Development Department (“Business Oregon”) that includes the Director of OBDD, DLCD, ODOT, DSL and DEQ. These Directors would work with local jurisdictions and economic developers to select “Projects of Statewide Significance” that would qualify for expedited permitting. The Council would also identify large tracts of zoned industrial land (“Regionally Significant Industrial Areas”) that have characteristics (transportation access, size, etc.) that make them particularly suited for high-wage, export oriented industries and protect them from conversion or expensive and unnecessary overlays. OBP did an excellent story on the bill in their April 19, 2011 news coverage. Check it out here.