Author Archives: EDCO

Bend-Redmond Ranked #1 Best Performing Small City For An Unprecedented Four Consecutive Years

2020 Best Performing Small City

MILKEN INSTITUTE RANKS BEND-REDMOND MSA #1 BEST PERFORMING SMALL CITY AN UNPRECEDENTED FOUR YEARS IN A ROW

#1 FIVE-YEAR WAGE GROWTH, #2 FIVE-YEAR JOB GROWTH

BEND, OR (February 28, 2020) – Los Angeles-based Milken Institute released its 2020 yearly findings to the Best Performing Small Cities study, naming the Bend-Redmond MSA the Best Performing Small City in the country for the fourth consecutive year. Over the past 20+ years, no other large or small metro has held the #1 ranking more than two years in a row.

All nine key indicators the Milken Institute uses to compile these listings ranked in the top 30 out of a total of 201 small U.S. metros. The report specifically mentioned high-tech GDP growth and high-tech GDP concentration as contributing to the region’s economic expansion, sectors Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) has dedicated both emphasis and effort to over the past decade.

Roger Lee, EDCO’s CEO, noted “We have come to anticipate this report as both a measure of success for our economic development work as well as a barometer on areas we can improve upon. I’m particularly proud of the manufacturing employment growth cited in the report: over 2,100 new jobs since the previous year. Additionally, in the past eight years overall manufacturing jobs have grown by 60% and total wages by nearly 90%. This report further proves EDCO’s efforts are creating a positive impact on our regional economy.”

Below is an excerpt from the report, which can be found in its entirety here:
“For the fourth year in a row, Bend-Redmond, OR, ranks first on the Best-Performing Small Cities Index. All of its indicators rank in the top 30. Clear standouts are the first-place ranking for five-year wage growth, second-place ranking on five-year job growth, and fifth-place rankings on five-year high-tech GDP growth and high-tech concentration. Once more, the metro posted high ranks in its five-year metrics with consistent high ranks in its one-year indicators. The metro’s five-year ranks should remain a source of strength for the near term. While the metro has lost a few spots on the number of concentrated high-tech industries (LQ > 1), its diverse economy is anchored by more traditional industries.”

About Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO)

Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) is a non-profit corporation supported by private and public members and stakeholders, whose mission is to create middle-class jobs in Central Oregon by: recruiting new employers to move to the region; helping entrepreneurs start new, scalable businesses; and working with businesses that are already here to grow their operations. For more information, visit www.edcoinfo.com.

We’re Hiring – Redmond and Jefferson County Internship Coordinators

Photo of Mount Bachelor

**These positions have been filled.**

Not one, but two new positions have just been posted!

If you have a passion for connecting people and making an impact in your community, this is a great opportunity for you to serve as either the Internship Coordinator for Jefferson County or the Internship Coordinator for Redmond. In many aspects, these roles serve as a matchmaker for businesses and students of all levels.

For more information on both positions and how to apply, see below.

Redmond Internship Coordinator **This position has been filled.**

Jefferson County Internship Coordinator

We’re Hiring – Bend Area Director

EDCO Hiring Central Oregon

Make a significant impact within the Central Oregon Business community by joining Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) as the Bend Area Director. This role is the business retention and expansion (BRE) and recruitment specialist for the Bend Area. Directly responsible for working with the City of Bend and specifically with the Bend Economic Development Advisory Board (BEDAB) this role will be outward-facing in the community in sharing how EDCO benefits our region as a whole.  With equal parts strategic and tactical/administrative, we are seeking a roll-up-your-sleeves, no-task is too big (or too small) partner to truly make an impact within the Central Oregon business community.

Here are a few key goals for you in this position:

  • Coordinate & perform outreach to the 600+ traded-sector businesses within Bend and nearby unincorporated areas.
  • Play a part in strengthening and diversifying our economy by recruiting and retaining businesses that represent a wide array of industries.
  • Advocate for business needs with the City & Deschutes County staff, elected officials and funding agencies.
  • Represent EDCO on the BEDAB and work closely with the City Economic Development Department.
  • Flourish as part of a small, cohesive, talented, passionate, and accountable team of professionals.

Please send a cover letter, resume, salary requirements, and professional references with the subject line “Bend Area Director EDCO” to our recruiter: kat.gardner@mybbsi.com. In your cover letter, please describe why you think you could be the person for this job and what you’ve accomplished in your career that closely relates to this role.

For the complete job description, click here.

Deschutes Public Library: A Great Resource for Small Businesses

Pictures of Deschutes Library from outside

Bend, Ore. – December, 4, 2019: If you own or are looking to start a business in Central Oregon, there’s a good chance you know Liisa Sjoblom, a community librarian whose work focuses on supporting the business community, nonprofits and those seeking employment. Liisa helps customers with business planning by researching market and industry data. She also assists nonprofits with information on grant opportunities and individuals who are looking to update their resumes.

We sat down with Liisa for a brief Q&A to learn more about how the library is helping small businesses.

EDCO: What resources do you have available for small businesses?

Liisa: The Deschutes Public Library offers a suite of online Small Business Resources that can help with all aspects of your business including industry research, consumer demographics and information about competitors. Access to this information is through the library’s business research site.

EDCO: Are there any costs associated with using these resources?

Liisa: No. All resources and services are free to use. Most resources are available 24/7 from home or office with the use of your library card.

EDCO: How can someone learn more about using the resources?

Liisa:
Through the library’s Book-a-Librarian Service. You can set up a time with a librarian to learn how to use any of the resources. You can also request information for your particular business endeavor. We can pull data and push it out electronically to you and then meet to discuss the findings. We also provide referral services to the business support network in Central Oregon.

EDCO: Tell us about the newly launched business newsletter?

Liisa: The first quarterly edition of Business News went out to subscribers in October. It is for anyone interested in small business development in the region. It features business resources and services available at your library and beyond. Find out about new books and online resources from the library plus other information about library partners and featured websites.

EDCO: How has your partnership with EDCO helped you in your role with the library?

Liisa: Networking and referrals are the most important piece of my work with EDCO. The ability to network with business owners and entrepreneurs at PubTalk, the Bend Venture Conference and other EDCO sponsored events have been invaluable. I’m constantly making connections and talking with people about what the library can offer at these events. I make referrals to EDCO with people that I work with and in turn, I receive referrals from EDCO for their clients. I also make liberal use of the Central Oregon Community information they compile annually. 

EDCO: Any final thoughts about providing support to the small business community?

Liisa: I like helping people fulfill their dreams as they start planning their new business ventures. It’s exciting to hear about what people are planning and then see those businesses succeed. It’s all about connecting people with the information that will make them successful.

Other Library News: 

Growing for the Future
The library is preparing for its centennial celebration in 2020. As the population in Deschutes County continues to grow, the library invites local residents to join in on a series of forums scheduled throughout the county. Here, residents will have the opportunity to be a part of interactive discussions with the library architects regarding future renovation, expansion and enhancement plans for the local libraries. Provide thoughts and insight into your library needs including space, collections, programmings, and services. A list of scheduled forums can be found here.

START: Volitant Consulting

Bend, Ore. (December 5, 2019) – Volitant Consulting is a new company specializing in Amazon marketing, advertising and product sales for local, national and international product-based businesses. Their main goal is to simply be a relief factor for businesses trying to make it in Amazon’s competitive, ever-changing sales environment. Volitant Consulting launched just over a year ago in a home office with three dedicated, energetic and forward-thinking entrepreneurs who have hit the ground running.

We sat down with Volitant’s Founder and CEO Justin Coats and one of their clients, Nail Magic, to hear how Volitant Consulting is directly helping them.

EDCO: Tell us more about the services you provide?

Volitant: Our services range from hourly consulting for businesses on a tight budget, companies that need anything from project help to full account management, PPC advertising management (utilizing machine learning to be the most efficient with our clients’ ad spend), E-commerce strategy, and other Amazon-related needs. We love working with companies who have a concern for family, the environment, personal health & well-being, and other products that encouraging healthy living.

EDCO: Why did you choose to start your business in Central Oregon?

Volitant: It was a natural step for me being a Bend native. After moving around a lot, being in the Marine Corps, getting my helicopter commercial rating, and being a deployed professional UAV pilot, I wanted to be home. My family wanted me home. So, I took this skill of managing Amazon accounts, something I’d been doing for a few years already, and started inquiring with local businesses. Once I noticed the deep need there was no holding me back, being able to take the stress of Amazon off local companies’ plates is what drove me to start my business. I’ve always called Bend home, born here and raised here and eastern Oregon. It really is amazing to be so involved with what keeps Bend growing. It’s local businesses. Not to mention everything we have in our backyard. Why wouldn’t you want to be here?

EDCO: What is it about Central Oregon’s startup ecosystem that has helped you?

Volitant: You know, there is such a buzz around the Central Oregon startup community, between EDCO’s PubTalks and other events, Bend Young Professionals, the OSU-Cascades Innovation Co-Lab, Opportunity Knocks, along with many other entrepreneur meetups. There is so much information and help out there. I haven’t even tapped into all of it yet but it’s been such a help. Navigating the do’s and don’ts for a young start-up, where your focus should be, how to best manage financials when you’re bootstrapping. Any question you have, any need you have, someone in this amazing community has been there and done that, just ask.

EDCO: Tell us about some projects you’ve worked on since you launched your business, including any success stories and lessons learned.

Volitant: The ball started rolling through several local companies that were pulling their hair out with Amazon, tried Amazon and failed, or were operating at a loss just to show up and protect their brand. Once they heard we could help, it was a done deal and we haven’t slowed down. With our expertise, drive and positive energy, we had one client see a 358% sales increase year over year.

We also specialize in IP enforcement. This is the biggest pet peeve of mine in the Amazon landscape. Talented individuals create an amazing product, start a business around that product, list it on Amazon (because you’re missing millions of buyers if you don’t) and then BAM! They find an infringing product, a counterfeit, or copyright, trademark infringement or worse, an infringement on their patent. We’ve helped a local company remove over 600 infringing products in 2019 thus far. This is definitely one of those enjoyable projects you write home about and makes you feel good!

One of my favorite clients and success stories is Nail Magic, based in Redmond. They’ve been with us for over a year now. When we first partnered, their sales were declining. Within a month, we turned that decline around, making it positive by 50%. Now, a year later, we are seeing over 80% growth AND we are getting ready to take them internationally!

Some lessons learned? Part of this process is looking and planning into the future. Right now we’re laying the foundations for growth in 2020 that will require hiring and training several new employees.

EDCO: What makes Volitant Consulting different?

Volitant: We have a unique trait that sets us apart from any other agency we’ve encountered – we care! That caring goes into our services and how we treat our clients which is why we’ve developed our own Brand Protection Strategies. We have developed close relationships with several IP lawyers to create processes that help companies enforce their IP on a platform that has previously made it nearly impossible to enforce. We also enforce trademark, copyright infringement and illegal reviews.

We also partner with several other digital marketing agencies. Having strategic partnerships allows us to offer the full package for product companies, which not many marketing agencies can say.

EDCO: How did you hear about EDCO and has the organization helped you and your business?

Volitant: We actually learned about EDCO while attending a PubTalk. We quickly realized that EDCO was going to be a vital catalyst in connecting us with local companies. EDCO has helped Volitant Consulting develope relationships with people who have the resources to help local businesses for financial help, business lawyers, banking, etc., as well as connecting us with local product companies looking to sell or who are currently selling on Amazon. EDCO has been such a great help and encouraging force for me to get out there, try new things, take meetings, push the limits and make it happen! Thank you!

Q&A with Megan Straughan, Nail Magic’s CEO 

EDCO: How did you hear about Volitant Consulting?  

Nail Magic: We heard about Volitant through Molly Renner, Owner at Sublime Creative Agency. We had been working with her for a couple of years and were seeing progress business-wide.  We wanted change our social media strategy and look into increasing our Amazon presence. She said I found a local guy who knows Amazon. Our reaction was that is so incredible and is he crazy? Amazon is a beast and finding someone who specializes in their system was a gift.

EDCO: How has Volitant helped you?

Nail Magic: Volitant understands the Amazon system and the way to correctly handle their requirements. We were struggling to understand how to grow with them and the unique dynamics of the Amazon platform. It is unlike any other customer we have dealt with. Volitant has and continues to assist us in growing our business. We have seen growth of over 80% compared to last year and went from selling on average 770 pieces a month to selling on average 1,341 pieces a month. We are also in the early stages of expanding the Amazon business globally with our next stop to be the United Kingdom.

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There’s A Lot (of Beer) Brewing in Central Oregon

Legend Cider Kegs representing the large brewing in Central Oregon

Brewing in Central Oregon is having its heyday. And it’s not just beer being brewed here. It’s also craft cider makers and distillers

According to a recent article in the Portland Business Journal, Central Oregon’s brewing and distilling industry is seriously outboxing its weight. Of the state’s Top 25 craft beer brewers by volume (146 in all), 10 are based in the tri-county area, including Oregon’s largest brewery, Deschutes Brewery.

Four of the top 25 distillers call Central Oregon home including the State’s second-largest, Bendistillery.

Plus, four of the top 15 cider manufacturers are based in Central Oregon, including the second largest, Avid Cider.

Earlier this year, C+R Research ranked Bend, Oregon third in the U.S. as the city with the most breweries per capita – just behind Portland, Maine, and Asheville, North Carolina.

Currently, Central Oregon has 41 Breweries, Distilleries and Cider Makers and they continue to receive major awards. In 2017, Sunriver Brewing Company won the Small Brewing Company of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival, among other awards. Oregon Spirit Distillers has received multiple awards from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition for their craft whiskeys, gins and absinthe. And that’s just the tip of what’s been awarded.

Central Oregon is brewing some serious beers, ciders and liquors. If you’re in need of some hands-on taste testing, the Bend Ale Trail is a great place to start.

MOVE: Gel Energy Solutions

Gel Energy Solutions - before and after photo of using LED lighting in a warehouse

In October of 2018, GEL Energy Solutions decided to expand its operations from California with a move to Central Oregon. After three years of helping industrial and commercial customers streamline their energy and lighting needs in Northern California, owner Charlie Gerwe saw a vacancy in the Central Oregon marketplace, allowing the company to make the move north.

Today, GEL Energy Solutions is helping companies navigate energy-saving solutions throughout the region. Their turn-key LED lighting process saves businesses up to 70% just by switching outdated, inefficient lighting with high-quality LED solutions.

We chatted with GEL Energy Solutions’ CEO Charlie Gerwe about his move to Central Oregon and how their company can help local businesses.

Why did you choose to move your business to Central Oregon?

I am originally from Oregon and had moved to the Bay Area a few years ago. I knew I always wanted to make it back to Oregon. My first company, GEL America, focused on providing companies these cost-savings solutions with no out of pocket costs. After returning to Bend and seeing there was a space in the market for us to offer these same solutions, I knew the choice was simple. It’s a great place to live and raise a family. It’s been great not only directly helping businesses but also strengthening the local economy by utilizing Central Oregon’s Labor Force.

What is GEL Energy Solutions?

We’re an Oregon business working with Energy Trust of Oregon to help local businesses improve monthly and overall profit by updating their lighting for no money out of pocket. We make lighting upgrades affordable and easy. The great part about GEL’s services is that there is no obligation or any costs to have your facility completely assessed to learn what business decisions can be made for your company.

GEL Energy Solutions focuses on updating both commercial and industrial lighting at no cost to the building or business owner by offering financing methods and turnkey LED lighting solutions. We call it lighting as a service. Businesses that work with GEL never have to worry about their lighting systems again and cut their energy bill by up to 70%. Our customers are positively impacting the environment by reducing their carbon footprint.

What types of companies could benefit from GEL Energy Solutions?

Large commercial and industrial buildings see the most savings, but any building with an energy bill over $300 a month can significantly impact their bottom line. The higher the energy bill, the more savings we can offer.  We enjoy serving a wide variety of businesses in Oregon.

Some of the local businesses that GEL Energy Solutions has worked with are: Deschutes County Jail, Deschutes Children Foundation, Northland Furniture, Smith Brothers Pushrods, Century Market, CLS Fabrication, Columbia Distribution, Roger Langeliers Construction, Cascade Heating, Webfoot Painting, and the Tower Theater.

Any Final Words?

One of my favorite parts about working with our customers is when they realize how affordable and easy a lighting upgrade can be. People think it’s a huge expense that will set them back, is unnecessary, will take a lot of time and effort, and becoming a huge headache. But that doesn’t have to be the case anymore. By using GEL Energy Solutions, our local businesses can update their lights, save huge on their energy bills, cash flow positive every month and reduce their carbon footprint without paying a dime.

Learn more about how GEL Energy Solutions provides Oregon commercial and industrial LED lighting solutions.

Laird Superfood Receives OEDA Business Development Success Award

Laird Superfood staff outside Sisters facility

Laird Superfood Receives the Business Development Success Award Presented by Oregon Economic Development Association

Company-Community Vision and Collaboration Results in Job Growth and Economic Gains

SISTERS, Ore., Oct. 28, 2019 – The vision and collaboration of the town of Sisters, Oregon, with an innovative start-up company in 2015 has led to Laird Superfood today being awarded the Business Development Success award by the Oregon Economic Development Association (OEDA). The award, presented by OEDA at today’s 2019 Awards ceremony in Salem Oregon, honors Laird Superfood for expanding its existing business in an effort to create jobs, expand the local tax base and improve the town of Sisters, Oregon community.

Laird Superfood produces a highly popular assortment of plant-based superfood products, which are manufactured and distributed from its headquarters in Sisters, Oregon. The company is this year’s fastest-growing manufacturer in the tri-county region of Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson. In the past 12 months, Laird Superfood has added 58 employees (210% growth) to meet rising global demand for its line of healthy creamers and assorted plant-based food products.

Since the company’s launch in 2015 with just three employees, Laird Superfood now employs over 100 people, occupies a new state-of-the-art 20,000 square-foot campus, and ranks as the town of Sisters’ largest private employer. The company is in the process of breaking ground on a third building and has purchased additional adjacent lots for future expansion, with the vision of increasing employment to 500 within the next five years.

“We are proud to receive this award. From the beginning, it has been our mission to give back to the Sisters community by providing job opportunities and making an economic impact,” said Paul Hodge, CEO of Laird Superfood. “We are grateful to Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO), which played an instrumental role in bringing Laird Superfood to Sisters. By connecting us with key employee hires, helping to find available land to build our new facility, helping us to secure forgivable loans with the city and county, and leading us through tax incentives, EDCO went above and beyond to support our business. We couldn’t be more pleased with how this award recognizes the original vision has become a reality, and how Laird Superfood will continue to grow hand-in-hand with the town of Sisters.”

The criteria for OEDA’s Business Development Award:

  • Extent of the economic impact on the community such as an increase in the overall tax base, the creation of new jobs, or criteria relevant to the goals of the program.
  • Achievement of its stated objective with measurable results.
  • Development of strong relationships, with relevant players and widespread community support.
  • Innovation, originality and cost-effectiveness.
  • Relevance and transferability of elements to other communities

About Laird Superfood

The company was co-founded in 2015 by the world’s most prolific big-wave surfer, Laird Hamilton. His passion project to perfect his personal regimen grew into a dynamic, innovative brand with a mission to bring clean, simple, and thoughtfully formulated superfoods to the masses. As one of the fastest-growing companies in the natural foods space, Laird Superfood’s offerings are environmentally sustainable, responsibly tested, and made with whole-food ingredients that everyone can feel good about.

SOURCE: Laird Superfood

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2019 Bend Venture Conference Winners

EDCO ANNOUNCES THE WINNERS OF THE 16TH ANNUAL BEND VENTURE CONFERENCE

Six Companies Presented with a Total of $488,000 in Investments & Cash Awards

BEND, OR – October 18, 2019Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) hosted the 16th  Annual Bend Venture Conference (BVC) to a sold-out crowd at the Tower Theatre in Downtown Bend. This August, nearly 100 companies from across the U.S. and Canada applied to the conference in hopes of making it to the Tower Theatre stage. Over the past two days, 14 finalists presented their ideas to nearly 600 attendees.

This year marks the largest fund yet for the BVC, LLC, setting a funding record for the conference.

This year’s award breakdown is as follows:

Growth Stage Competition

The Growth Stage Competition, which included companies that have a proven concept and initial revenues, had two different winners.

  • Winners of BVC, LLC, Investment Awards*:
    • Observa (Seattle, WA) – An AI platform bringing ecommerce-style analytics to brick-and-mortar retail, was awarded $250,000.
    • Belmont (Portland, OR) – Providing break rooms with coffee, simplified draft beverages and fully-managed pantry service using proprietary technology, was awarded $100,000.

*The investment arm of the conference, BVC, LLC, awarded the Growth Stage investments following considerable due diligence of each of the five presenting finalists. This investment included $75,000 from Business Oregon and $10,000 from Oregon Community Foundation. Investments and follow on deals are still being finalized.

Impact Competition

The Impact Competition, which included for-profit companies with an integrated social or environmental mission, had one winner, awarded by the BVC Impact LLC. This is the fifth award given by the Impact LLC in the past four years.

  • Winner of the BVC Impact LLC, Investment Award*:
    • Riff Cold Brewed (Bend, OR) – Upcycling coffee byproduct into an all-natural energy drink, was awarded $85,000.

*The impact investment arm of the conference awarded an investment following considerable due diligence of each of the four presenting finalists. This investment included $25,000 from Business Oregon and $10,000 from Oregon Community Foundation. Investments are still being finalized.

Early Stage Competition

The Early Stage Competition included companies that are pre-revenue (or very early) and are in the process of testing their product in the market. The three winning Early Stage companies are:

  • Winners of the Portland Seed Fund Early Stage Competition:
    • FleetNurse Inc. (Eugene, OR) – An app-based on-demand staffing service for healthcare facility supervisors, was awarded $25,000.
    • Steamchain Corp. (Salem, OR) – A blockchain company using smart contracts to reduce high currency conversion costs and fluctuation risk in shipping and logistics, was awarded $25,000.
  • Winner of the Keiretsu Forum Audience Award (awarded at EDCO’s September PubTalk):
    • TerrAmor (Corvallis, OR) – A low-cost, easy to deploy, organic-certified solution for soft fruit growers to address the spotted wing drosophila problem, won a $3,000 cash award.

“This year we’ve raised the most money for the BVC LLCs in the history of the conference,” said Brian Vierra, EDCO’s Venture Catalyst. “This continues to show the strong local investor support for both the Conference and our current startup ecosystem. BVC continues to connect Central Oregon entrepreneurs to a broader, national audience.”

About Bend Venture Conference (BVC)
Now in its 16th year, BVC, hosted by EDCO, is one of the largest angel conferences in the country. Over the past five years, more than $10 million has been invested in 38 companies as a result of the conference. This year, nearly 600 entrepreneurs, investors, and business leaders attended the multi-day conference on October 17-18, in Bend, Oregon. bendvc.com

About Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO)
EDCO is a non-profit corporation supported by private and public members and stakeholders, whose mission is to create middle-class jobs in Central Oregon by recruiting new employers to move to the region; helping entrepreneurs start new, scalable businesses; and working with businesses that are already here to grow their operations. edcoinfo.com