Business and Industry

Home to over 1,000 retail and service-based businesses, Ontario is committed to building and sustaining businesses of any size. Treasure Valley Community College’s Small Business Development Center is a vital resource of information for small businesses. Development projects are constantly in the works, and there are indications that growth and prosperity will continue to define business and industry in the area.

Ontario’s six major employers provide work for over 2,500 individuals. Government offices alone have made over 2,600 jobs. Our primary newspaper publishers are the Argus Observer, Independent-Enterprise and Malheur Enterprise. Some major companies reside outside of Ontario but are still within Malheur County lines.

The Snake River Correctional Institution is a multi-custody prison in Ontario that houses approximately 3,000 male inmates. It opened in 1991 and is the largest correctional institution in the state of Oregon. The prison has multiple special housing units including disciplinary segregation, intensive management, administrative segregation unit and the infirmary. The Snake River Correctional Institution participates in prison industries with Oregon Corrections Enterprises with a call center, laundry and sign shop. The prison’s key focuses are incentive housing, specialized housing, education programs, institution work programs and cognitive and parenting programs. In addition, the Snake River Correctional Institution actively addresses mental or medical vulnerabilities in inmates.


Fertile land is the basis of all that lies within Malheur County. A mild climate and rich soil provide optimal means for flourishing farms and ranches. Because of this, the agricultural industry is undeniably the main structure for the local economy.

Major Agricultural Industries:

Beef cattle
The number one agricultural product in Malheur County is beef. Cattle ranches can be found throughout the area, many of which trace back to the 1800s.

Onions are the second best agricultural product in the county. Migrant workers are largely responsible for the weeding and harvesting of more than five percent of the national onion market in Malheur County. Every August and September, observers can witness the annual onion curing while going for a drive on county roads.

As a staple in many restaurants and kitchens, potatoes serve as the groundwork for a number of recipes. In Malheur County, large russet potatoes are the third-largest cash crop. In addition to the top three industries, several other products are grown and produced within the county lines. These products include alfalfa hay, alfalfa seeds, carrots, milk, peppermint oil, sugar beets, wheat and grains. With the help of the Union Pacific Railroad and various trucking companies, these goods are transported out of Malheur County.