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Milken economist headlines Southern Oregon Business Conference

Milken Institute economist Minoli Ratnatunga headlines the 2015 Southern Oregon Business Conference, set for Thursday, Jan. 29.

Ratnatunga researches regional economic development and regional competitiveness. Her work shapes Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities Index, an annual survey ranking America’s metropolitan areas according to job creation and job growth sustainability.

The Medford Statistical Area, which generally includes all of Jackson County, ranked No. 16 on the Milken Institute's small cities performance index in 2002 and remained in the upper-echelon until the recession.

Since then, Medford has struggled, falling from No. 39 to No. 54 in 2009 and tumbling to No. 128 in 2011. In 2013, the ranking stood at No. 114 out of 179 areas.

The region, however, is showing signs of a comeback.

Ratnatunga will discuss how the region stacks up to similar communities across the nation in terms of overall economic performance, explaining how global, U.S. and Oregon economies have changed during the past year.

The 12th annual event, put on by Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc., runs from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Inn at the Commons, across Riverside Avenue from the Lithia Motors headquarters.

Panelists Adam Cuppy of Coding Zeal, Mike Tylutki of Carestream and Tolga Latif of Linx Technology will delve into how they have carved out successful niches in the worldwide tech marketplace.

University of Oregon economics professor Tim Duy, who writes the Oregon Economic Index and Rogue Valley Economic Index, will provide an update as well.

The cost is $40 for SOREDI members and $50 for nonmembers. Online registration is at