Oregon received sobering economic news this week, with data indicating a stall in hiring and an increase in jobs lost in June. While these sluggish economic numbers are disconcerting, I’m most anxious about the root cause of these figures: slowed growth in manufacturing and reduced activity at the Port of Portland. These industries are essential to our economy, and if we allow these industries to stumble, it would have an adverse effect on the rest of our economy.

At a recent roundtable, our state’s manufacturing sector explained that their economic contributions were often overlooked by elected officials. I heard the same thing when I served in the Oregon legislature, but it seems that their comments now have a greater sense of urgency. Manufacturers represent a wide range of industries, from technology to exports, so the health of the manufacturing field is typically an indicator of the health of our overall economy. A stall in manufacturing typically signals a stall in general growth, meaning industries are either not growing or their decreasing activity.

Slowed activity at the Port of Portland is also a worrisome sign. Our trade and export industry is a bright spot for our local economy, with almost one in four of our region’s jobs being tied to trade. So, any stall or slow in this industry would have a profound ripple effect on the rest of our overall economy, something that would be a detrimental setback for our sluggish recovery.

The solution to reigniting these industries is simple: Foster economic growth. The manufacturing and export industries benefit from large, private investments, which would help spur development, especially at the ports, and provide a foundation for long-term growth. With growing international demand and our geographical position, our region has several proposed export expansions that would provide our state and the entire Northwest with a much needed economic stimulus.

However, there is one thing that we should not do that would slow economic growth. We must not follow Washington State’s example of putting in place unnecessary, bureaucratic roadblocks to the tremendous positive economic benefits of private investment in port expansion. Washington’s unprecedented decision to expand their normal review process for permitting the build out of their two proposed coal export terminals and its ominous implications for any industrial development in the future is exactly the wrong thing to do. If Oregon follows, I fear such actions would damage our states fragile economic recovery.

Our state can choose to foster these expansions and secure the foundations of our economy or we can continue just getting by. The decisions we make today will affect our economy for generations to come.