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Florence looks to grow healthcare jobs and add housing

An Art Deco style bridge over a river.
Florence's Siuslaw River Bridge

Oregon’s central coast is attracting more and more retirees. A new study commissioned by the Oregon Coast Visitors Association found that more than 40% of coastal Lane County residents are 65 and older, compared with about 18% percent statewide.

Jenna Cusimano is Lane County’s interim Economic Development Manager. She said the numbers show it’s important to have suitable healthcare facilities at the coast.

She said the county's other priority is to make sure people of all ages can work in the area, and find affordable housing.

“The city of Florence has been focused on getting more housing in the community," she said. "They are working with Homes for Good, our local housing authority, on an affordable housing project in the area. They have a number of new apartment communities that are coming online.”

Cusimano said Florence recently passed a multi-unit property tax exemption program, or MUPTI, which will incentivize developers to consider coastal communities—where getting supplies can be more expensive, and therefore a harder sell for builders.

The study shows tourism makes up 8.1% of coastal Lane County’s economy. Cusimano said she continues to hear from partners on the coast that the hospitality industry is suffering from having many vacant positions, and not enough applicants.

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.