Bentz, House speaker propose major economic legislation for Malheur County

Workers process onions at a Malheur County processing plant. A new legislative proposal would give the county a state-backed organization to expand industry and create jobs. (Malheur Enterprise/file)

By Les Zaitz

The Enterprise

Malheur County would get a new state-funded economic development organization to prepare workers and build businesses under legislation introduced Thursday by state Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, and House Speaker Tina Kotek, a Portland Democrat.

The proposal was announced in Salem Thursday, encapsulated in House Bill 2012.

The legislation would create the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region encompassing Ontario, Vale and Nyssa.

A seven-person board would govern the new organization. Its members would be appointed by the governor but be nominated by the Malheur County Court.

The new entity would “promote workforce and economic . . .