EDCO Annual Meet Hails Banner Year Looks to Future

first_img E-Headlines on July 30, 2013 Pinterest EDCO Annual Meet Hails Banner Year, Looks to Future Google+ Facebook Share. Twittercenter_img The value of collaborative partnerships was highlighted at the recent annual meeting of Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) which celebrated a banner year of direct involvement in the creation of some 1146 new jobs, with a payroll value of over $40 million.Outgoing President Angela Price, Pacific Power Business Manager, paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of staff and volunteers which helped generate the best results in the organization’s 32-year history, and hailed the success of evolving business catalyst events like Pub Talk and the Bend Venture Conference, which are seeing record attendances.Price said 2013-2014 was also shaping up well with a full pipeline of prospects and a profile continuing to rise with the help of growing membership and increased public funding – though securing sustainable, consistent and effective operational funding to meet the region’s expectations was a continual challenge and needed to be bolstered by better communicating EDCO’s role and achievements.Executive Director Roger Lee added: “Now more than ever, we understand as a member of EDCO you need to see value generated from your investment.“We often work quietly behind the scenes to lay the groundwork for quality jobs for Central Oregonians and more prosperous communities, but want to communicate better what we’re doing and the impact on the local economy. We are also ramping up efforts to provide more direct benefits through top caliber speakers and content at high level events.“Economic development is very broad – we are focused on adding value and turning the needle in that direction, guided by a strategic plan which forms our ‘blueprint’ for the next three years.”That strategic plan for 2013-15 earmarks objectives, activities and best areas to pursue in terms of initiatives identified to further build the local economy.EDCO’s mission is primarily to launch, grow and recruit traded-sector businesses (those that export a majority of goods and services outside the region) with a robust business retention and expansion plan, and goals for the upcoming cycle include attracting 36 new companies that could bring an additional $200 million in new capital investment.Marketing and recruitment efforts are targeted geographically and by industry for greater effectiveness, with Lee indicating an upcoming campaign would focus on the Bay Area portraying a typical traffic-snarled commute there compared to Central Oregon and a tagline touting the prospect of improving lifestyle and lowering cost of business and living by relocating.On the industry front, a number of coordinated efforts are underway to attract more companies in the software industry, outdoor recreation gear and apparel, and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) sector.On the latter point, EDCO has played a key role in a multi-state initiative (also incorporating Hawaii and Alaska) to make Oregon and our region a center of excellence for the rapidly growing UAV industry, with the aid of an Oregon Innovation Council grant.Looking back at recent highlights, EDCO has been instrumental in developing strategic partnerships to accomplish:–          Doubling of the region’s electric power supply (in part to cater to the mushrooming of data center facilities such as Facebook’s presence in Prineville);–          Expanding funding sources for early stage companies through a ‘Venture Catalyst Program’, along with boot-camp mentorship and one-on-one business counseling via groups like EDCO’s “stable of experts”;–          Bringing additional commercial air service to the region by landing a return of direct daily roundtrip flights between Redmond and LAX.On the utility front, nearly 400 megawatts of power has been added to the tri-county region following the culmination of a two-year effort catalyzed by EDCO. Partners included Oregon’s Congressional delegation, the cities of Prineville and Redmond, Pacific Power, Central Electric Cooperative and the Bonneville Power Administration.Lee added: “This expansion paves the way for future job creation and new capital investment, particularly in the high technology, manufacturing and data center industries.”He also indicated work is continuing on promoting the new Los Angeles flight, and on efforts to land a new link, possibly to Phoenix.EDCO also sees education and training as a key component of a successful economic development strategy and along with multiple partners is helping to establish OSU-Cascades as a four-year university as well as actively working with COCC on new investments such as the $30 million Technology Center under construction in Redmond, and the regional needs of its four campuses.It is also working with the region’s school districts to provide a more robust school-to-work experience for high school students, putting them on a potentially straighter path to gainful employment after graduation.On the local level, through partnerships with the cities of Sisters and La Pine, along with Deschutes County, EDCO is expanding with new managers in offices in each of those communities.The meeting heard EDCO representatives have also played a key role in streamlining the process for entitling an inventory of large lots in the region to create the critical component of “shovel ready” industrial sites of 20-250 acres geared towards attracting traded sector companies.Future strategic initiatives include involvement with the City of Bend on discussions with the state regarding potential Urban Growth Boundary expansion options, which could have significant ramifications for economic development potential.Lee said: “The major legs of economic development are recruitment, retention/expansion and entrepreneurship, and I am proud of our efforts in all three areas.“For example, in the last 12 months managers throughout the region have met with 319 companies to try to add value, which deserves a ‘best in class’ state-wide as they have effectively interacted with some two thirds of business in the traded sector in Central Oregon.“Our member and volunteer base is also growing and provides invaluable input towards building collaborative partnerships that create an effective environment that helps create jobs.”www.edcoinfo.com. 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