Author Archives: EDCO

Announcing the BVC Growth Stage & Impact Track Semifinalist Companies

Announcing the Growth & Impact Semifinalists

Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) is excited to announce the semifinalist companies advancing in the Growth Stage and Impact Track competitions for the 20th annual Bend Venture Conference (BVC) on Thursday, October 19 – Friday, October 20, 2023.  The ten semifinalists in the Early Stage competition category were announced last week.

Each year, new BVC Growth and Impact Funds are raised to invest in the most promising ​companies that compete in the annual conference. At the 2022 BVC, these funds invested a combined $530,000 in Growth Stage and Impact Track finalists. In the weeks preceding the conference, angel investors meet with ​semifinalist companies at a series of due diligence meetings to narrow the companies to a list of finalists, which will be announced ​in early October. ​

Jenn Lynch, Fund Manager for the BVC LLC Funds, explained, “The investors in the Bend Venture Conference Funds are local businesspeople who enjoy learning about the semifinalists’ startups as much as they do hearing each other’s perspectives and building their own investment thesis. With a record number of applicants across all categories this year, we are thrilled with the variety and growth potential represented in the semifinalist companies.”

In alphabetical order, the nine BVC Growth Stage semifinalists are:

  1. Avoli (Portland, OR) – The first and only athletic brand dedicated exclusively to the performance needs and aspirations of women and girl volleyball athletes.
  2. Gnara (Gunnison, CO) – A revolutionary new approach to women’s clothing with a patented zipper design that helps everyone to answer nature’s call.
  3. Heather’s Choice (Ashland, OR) – A line of lightweight, packable meals and snacks made with wholesome, quality ingredients for adventuring.
  4. Hepatx (Palo Alto, CA) – An innovative, regenerative medicine solution for liver disease.
  5. iDentical Inc. (Mountain View, CA) – A dental device company that is disrupting the global dental implant market with personalized, drill-free dental implants.
  6. Po Campo (New York, NY) – A leader in modern daily travel, making stylish and sustainable designs specifically for commuters using bikes and scooters.
  7. Square Baby (Bend, OR) – A baby food subscription service that offers 100% daily nutrition and early allergen introduction for food allergy prevention.
  8. Toolbelt Inc. (Vancouver, WA) – A mobile software that allows contractors to post projects and directly connect with tradespeople.
  9. Varlo (Philadelphia, PA) – An inclusive athletics brand designed for endurance athletes of all sizes and body types.

In alphabetical order, the seven BVC Impact Track semifinalists are:

  1. Birch Biosciences (Portland, OR) – Engineering enzymes that break down plastic polymers for efficient and economic plastic recycling.
  2. ESG Brands (Portland, OR) – A proprietary technology for converting agriculture waste into textile fiber for the fashion industry.
  3. Harvest Thermal (Kensington, CA) – Electric heating, cooling and hot water systems for homes to support a strong and renewable electricity grid.
  4. LeapFrog Design (Bend, OR) – Modular, scalable, all-natural, plant-based treatment solutions for onsite greywater and blackwater recycling.
  5. Leap Photovoltaics (San Francisco, CA) – A revolutionary process to manufacture silicon solar cells at half the cost of silicon wafer-based cells using domestic supply chains.
  6. OpConnect Inc. (Portland, OR) – A turnkey EV charging solution provider that offers smart charging hardware and software for fleet operators and multi-family properties.
  7. Opolis (Kennebunk, ME) – A trademarked and patent pending blend that creates a monetizable plastic economy for the developing communities most impacted by plastic waste.

The Bend Venture Conference (BVC) is the longest standing and largest angel investment conference in the Pacific Northwest, serving as a catalyst for startup investment in Central Oregon. Throughout the conference attendees hear company pitches, break away for multiple networking activities and learn from aspiring entrepreneurs and industry thought leaders. Tickets to the 20th annual Bend Venture Conference are on sale now and are available here.

EDCO’s Central Oregon PubTalk: The Road to BVC

Ten Early Stage semifinalists will present at EDCO’s September PubTalk on September 28th at Worthy Brewing in Bend in hopes of moving on to present at BVC. Tickets are available through Eventbrite at

Announcing the Early Stage Bend Venture Conference Semifinalists Presenting at Central Oregon PubTalk

The 2022 Audience Favorite, TapeDeck, at the Central Oregon PubTalk being presented $3000, courtesy of Washington Trust Bank

BEND, Ore. – September 11, 2023 – Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) announced the 10 semifinalist companies advancing in the Early Stage competition for the 20th Annual Bend Venture Conference (BVC), which will take place at the Tower Theatre in Bend on Thursday, October 19 – Friday, October 20, 2023. 

In the next round of competition, the following Early Stage semifinalists will pitch against each other at the September 28th Central Oregon PubTalk: Road to BVC. This high-energy entrepreneurial event showcases the semifinalists as they deliver fast-paced, three-minute pitches to a live crowd. The audience, along with an expert panel of judges, will vote to decide which companies advance to present at BVC next month. In addition to influencing which companies advance to the BVC stage, the audience vote will determine which Early Stage company receives a $3,000 cash award, courtesy of Washington Trust Bank 

At BVC, Early Stage finalists will compete for a minimum investment of $25,000 from Portland Seed Fund (PSF) 

Speaking for PSF, Managing Director Angela Jackson said, “The Portland Seed Fund team has sponsored the Early Stage track investment since 2018. Remarkably, BVC attracts more applications each year from talented entrepreneurs, making our decision even tougher. Congratulations to all who applied, and to those who are advancing to the PubTalk live pitches. We look forward to seeing the finalists onstage in Bend in October.”   


In alphabetical order, the BVC Early Stage semifinalists that will compete at the September 28th Central Oregon PubTalk are: 

  1. BuildingLens Inc. (Portland, OR) – A software platform for small and medium-sized buildings that integrates with existing Building Automation Systems, thermostats and IoT devices to offer owners and operators a new level of oversight and occupant-centered data.
  2. CaseMark AI (Portland, OR) – A suite of tools that streamline workflows, generate summaries and accelerate discovery work all with secure, scalable and privacy-first AI solutions for legal industries.
  3. Finnegan the Dragon (Hillsboro, OR) – The first preschool curriculum and mobile gaming system that targets language development for better learning outcomes.
  4. FiOR Innovations (Bend, OR) – A robust construction management software for the architecture, engineering and construction industries. 
  5. ILLA Inc. (Jackson, WY) – An AI-powered adventure platform that is making space for women in the outdoors.
  6.  NeonMob (Seattle, WA) – A digital art trading card game where independent artists can share their work for others to collect with the ability to prove ownership without using blockchain or NFTs.
  7. Polaris(Bend, OR) – An AI-powered site reliability tool that detects outages and incidents in web applications in real-time.
  8. Revino Inc. (Newberg, OR) – A wine bottle reclamation and sanitation service that collects, washes and refills wine bottles in Oregon and beyond. 
  9. Spotlight XYZ  (Solana Beach, CA) – A community-driven platform connecting people, conscious brands and creators for social giving and advocacy.
  10. Symphony Markets (Bend, OR) – A streamlined, SEC compliant exchange for IP owners to list shares of their music while providing investors exposure to a stable, culturally relevant asset class. 

Central Oregon PubTalk on September 28th will feature these Early Stage semifinalists as they deliver fast-paced, three minute pitches to the audience at Worthy Brewing. Registration is available here 

PubTalk Agenda
4:30 pm to 5:30 pm – Networking, drinks and appetizers
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm – Early Stage Company Pitches, Audience Vote, Winner Announcement 

PubTalk Cost and Registration
Register through Eventbrite at
Ticket price is $26 for EDCO and OEN Members (become an EDCO member here); $36 for Non-Members. Attendance includes appetizers and a free beverage (choice of beer, wine or soda). 

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. 


About Bend Venture Conference (BVC)
The annual BVC, hosted by EDCO, is one of the largest angel conferences in the country. Over the past 20 years, BVC has served to evolve and grow the startup ecosystem throughout Central Oregon and across the Pacific Northwest. Since its inception, more than $12 million has been invested in 52 companies as a result of the conference. This year’s conference will gather entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders, and students at the Tower Theatre in Bend, Oregon on October 19-20, 2023. 

Scenic Areas, Wealth and Industrial Structure

Recently EDCO had the privilege to work with Josh Lehner, Economist at the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. He reached out to several Central Oregon organizations to share some research he’d done regarding service jobs in scenic areas compared to industry diversity (known as “industrial structure”). Josh’s research compared wealth job employment figures – those jobs supported by having wealth and tourism in your community – in areas that had high travel and tourism.

The research shows how the Bend MSA (Deschutes County) stacks up against other scenic areas and gives credence to the important role EDCO serves for our community. For more than four decades, EDCO has been working to diversify the regional economy by supporting long term strategic planning and growth efforts across the region and looking outside the area to attract new traded-sector businesses. The Central Oregon area has been a regional and national destination for decades, buoyed by the opening of Black Butte Ranch Resort in 1970.

Since 1981, EDCO has been working to balance our tourism economy with a strong base of middle-income jobs. Our outcomes are best depicted by the top graph to the left which shows that while the region’s leisure and hospitality employment levels are higher than the national average, we far outpace other scenic areas in employment within the professional, manufacturing and information (including tech sector) industries. The Scenic Areas’ Industrial Structure graph combines the data above into a single calculation, showing that our local economy ranks highest in diversity measures, a benchmark that insulates our community from economic vulnerabilities that can unevenly impact certain types of industries. Thank you for your support in making our region a national leader in economic growth. Josh’s full report is available at


The Bend Venture Conference Returns October 19-20 for its 20th Anniversary

Bend Venture Conference

Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) will again host the annual Bend Venture Conference (BVC) on Thursday, October 19 – Friday, October 20, 2023, at the iconic Tower Theatre in downtown Bend. Tickets to the 20th Annual BVC are available through

Each fall hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors from around the country descend on Bend, Oregon for a two-day celebration of entrepreneurship. Now in its 20th year, BVC is the longest standing and largest angel investment conference in the Pacific Northwest and has served as a catalyst for startup investment in Central Oregon. Since its inception, the BVC LLC Funds have awarded over $12 million in investment and participating companies have leveraged connections from the conference to receive millions in additional funding. As Central Oregon’s flagship entrepreneurial event, BVC aims to garner as much exposure for these companies as possible. Throughout the conference attendees hear company pitches, break away for networking events at local restaurants and learn from aspiring entrepreneurs and industry thought leaders.

Keynote Presenter Joth Ricci, President and CEO of Dutch Bros Coffee

The 2023 BVC will feature impressive speakers from across the country representing angel investors, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. Friday’s agenda will feature a Keynote presentation by Joth Ricci, Chief Executive Officer and President of Dutch Bros Coffee. Prior to joining Dutch Bros in January of 2019, Joth served as President and CEO of Adelsheim Vineyard and President of Stumptown Coffee Roasters. In addition to his leadership in the beverage industry, Joth is Chairman of the Board for the Oregon Business Council and Co-founder of TASTE for Equity. Joth is dedicated to mentoring and advising boards, organizations and individuals around strategic initiatives to ensure strong economic growth throughout the region and equitable opportunities for all.

“I am extremely excited about the 20th Anniversary of the Bend Venture Conference. This event showcases the incredible potential and innovation present in our region and serves as a platform for entrepreneurs to access the resources they need to thrive. BVC plays a vital role in accelerating the growth of our local startup ecosystem and fostering economic development in Central Oregon,” said Brian Vierra, Interim Venture Catalyst Director at EDCO.

Throughout the event, startup companies from around the country will take the Tower Theatre stage to pitch their businesses to BVC’s community of investors. The Growth Stage Competition finalists have historically received investment of $250,000 or more. The Early-Stage Competition will feature an investment of at least $25,000, thanks to Portland Seed Fund. Companies in the Impact Competition have historically competed for investments ranging from $50,000-$100,000.


This year’s conference will again feature three competition categories: Growth Stage, Early Stage, and Impact. The application period is open now through Thursday, August 16th, and companies across the United States are invited to apply.

  • Growth Stage Competition: Generally speaking, companies that have generated at least $1M in revenue in the last 18 months and/or have raised at least $500K in external capital including non-dilutive grants and are seeking to raise $250K-2.5MM+ in investment capital in the next 6-12 months.
  • Early Stage Competition: Generally speaking, this category is open to companies that have generated less than $1M in revenue in the last 18 months; have raised less than $500K in external capital including non-dilutive grants; and are seeking to raise $1M or less in investment capital the next 6-12 months.
  • Impact Competition: This category is open to for-profit companies whose business models are integrated with a mission to have a significant and measurable social or environmental impact. Impact applicants should be aiming to generate long-term enterprise value and attractive returns on capital.

For more information on the application process and to apply, visit

About Bend Venture Conference (BVC)
The Annual BVC, hosted by EDCO, is one of the largest angel conferences in the country. Over the past 20 years, BVC has served to evolve and grow the startup ecosystem throughout Central Oregon and across the Pacific Northwest. Since its inception, more than $12 million has been invested in 52 companies as a result of the conference. This year’s conference will gather entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders, and students at the Tower Theatre in Bend, Oregon on October 19-20, 2023.


Message from the CEO: July 2023

Alaska Airline plane at RDM airport

Jon Stark, EDCO CEO headshotMany of EDCO’s strategic priorities focus on supporting a business-friendly environment across Central Oregon and the State. The organization champions efforts to expand available land, infrastructure and resources; regularly engaging traded-sector employers to lend their voices when opportunities exist to share their insights. For example, due in large part to engagement from the business community, Alaska Airlines is bringing back direct flights between Redmond and Portland, operated by Horizon Air, on a seasonal basis this winter. It is important that Central Oregonians utilize these flights, and perhaps even more importantly, prioritize connecting flights through Portland to show that direct service to PDX is needed and justified. Thank you to those of you who have contributed to surveys and provided support for this priority and others.

In other news, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) recently announced it is investing more than $2 billion in multiple transmission substation and line projects in Oregon and Washington, which is necessary to reinforce the grid. Expanding this infrastructure will allow for greater economic development and ensure long term reliable energy to meet growing demand. Central Oregon will receive over $800 million to construct a new substation near Prineville as well as a new 53-mile transmission line to La Pine, which will support several incoming and expanding commercial customers, improve access to clean energy and maintain reliable transmission regionwide.

These and other initiatives contribute significantly to EDCO’s ability to attract and retain middle-income employment opportunities for the region, and the organization’s efforts are having an impact. For example, Central Oregon continues to be recognized for successfully diversifying the economy and attracting investment to the region. Most recently, Bend-Redmond ranked fifth in the Milken Institute’s 2023 Best Performing Cities study.

Outcomes and accolades like these are achieved through long-term planning and strategic efforts, partnerships with public and private stakeholders and member support. If you’re not already an EDCO member, please consider becoming one. Your financial contribution helps make this important work possible.

Become a member today.

Company Spotlight: Rosell Wealth Management

Photo of Rosell Wealth Management staff

Each month, Central Oregon PubTalk brings together entrepreneurs, business leaders and community members to network and celebrate the local startup community. Last month, Rosell Wealth Management joined Velox Systems, BBK Law, and Providence Health Plan as Title Sponsors of the program. EDCO sat down with David Rosell, President of Rosell Wealth Management to learn more about the company and their community efforts.

Rosell Wealth Management staff photo

Rosell Wealth Management Team (Left to Right): Rodney Cook, David Rosell, Emma James

Rosell Wealth Management is an independent financial planning and wealth management firm that specializes in retirement planning, audits and sale of life insurance, and tax mitigation for business owners. The last of which is the fastest growing segment of the business.

As David explained, “We jumped through a lot of hoops to become an independent financial advisory. Unlike other firms, our sole fiduciary responsibility is to our clients.”

Many community members will be familiar with David’s financial insights from his monthly features in Cascade Business News, where he has served as an author of the financial column for the last 22 years. David has a knack for weaving financial advice and storytelling. His most recent article, “Navigating the Rapids of Retirement Investing – A Kayaker’s Guide”, artfully depicts his recent adventure kayaking the Mackenzie River and makes an analogy to the uncertainty that individuals can feel when planning for their retirement.

In 2012, David decided to combine his passion for world travel and financial expertise in the book Failure is Not an Option, which received national recognition from industry leaders and media. Since publishing the book, David has been speaking to CEO groups and executives with a focus on retirement planning and for business owners through the sale of their companies.

Urged by his clients to write a book that could help their children and grandchildren understand personal finances, David wrote Keep Climbing, which includes tips for millennials to leveraging compounded interest and strategies such as “pay yourself first”.

Throughout his professional efforts, David has remained committed to giving back. He has served as Chairman of the Bend Chamber of Commerce, Chairman and committee leader for City Club of Central Oregon, and Chairman for Toastmasters Central Oregon Chapter.

When asked which accomplishment he was most proud of, David quickly responded that it was his ability to give back to the community. In addition to having served on a number of nonprofit boards, Rosell Wealth Management sets aside 10% of profits into a Donor Advised Fund they created called the James A. Lee Community Gift Fund, named after a community leader and mentor.

“Each year, we accept grant applications from our clients for local nonprofits that are near and dear to their hearts. It’s our way of giving back while supporting both our clients and our community,” said David.

In addition to David, the firm includes Partner and Director of Financial Planning, Rodney Cook and Emma James, Wealth Coordinator. Continuing David’s commitment to community service, Rodney serves as Vice Chair for the Central Oregon Chapter of Friends of the Children, sits on the Board of Directors for the central Oregon Community College Foundation and participates in the Equity and Recovery Council for the Governor of Oregon.

Milken Institute Ranks Bend-Redmond #5 in Best-Performing Small Cities

Bend-Redmond jumped five positions to fifth place in Milken Institute’s recently released 2023 Best-Performing Cities study. The Los Angeles-based Milken Institute compiles their listing annually. The metropolitan areas included in these rankings generated almost 90% of the national GDP in 2021 and the study provides a valuable framework for evaluating the relative performance of US cities. The report noted growth of the region’s concentration of high-tech industry and robust broadband access as key strengths for the ranking.

The study explained, “High tech and the digital economy played a key role in the country’s recovery from the pandemic, allowing work and education to continue during the initial stage, and driving growth, wages, and employment in the later stages. The high-tech sector produced more than $2.8 trillion of net output in 2021, growing by 11.3 percent in real terms between 2020 and 2021.”

According to data from the Oregon Employment Department, average employment for Central Oregon’s high tech sector has grown by 50% over the past 5-year period and 142% in the past decade. In 2021, average industry wages paid in Central Oregon were $116,579, accounting for over $460 million in covered payroll for the region.

Growth in the average employment and number of establishments in Central Oregon's high tech sector

Source: Nicole Ramos, Oregon Employment Department, Central and South Central Regional Economist

Jon Stark, CEO of EDCO, said, “Growth in jobs and wages across the Bend-Redmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) continues to outpace those of other similarly sized cities. These statistics indicate the benefits of a broad-based economy for thriving industries such as high tech. Companies are attracted to start, move and grow their businesses in areas with a concentration of high-skilled talent and incredible high quality of life. While the area faces challenges like affordable housing and availability of industrial lands, this study highlights the strengths of our region in attracting and growing businesses.”

The full Best-Performing Cities study can be found here.

For Press Inquiries:
Nicole Mcnew
Director of Marketing and Communications, EDCO
541.388.3236 x6


Insights from EDCO’s 2023 Annual Luncheon

Audience listening to keynote speaker at the EDCO Annual Luncheon

Nearly 800 business leaders and community members packed the Riverhouse Convention Center for the Annual Luncheon hosted by Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO). ITR Economics CEO and Chief Economist Brian Beaulieu presented his forecast for the local, national and global economy including how business owners could best prepare for the future.

Sherm Bloomer, Chancellor of OSU-Cascades, a title sponsor of the event, said, “OSU-Cascades is proud to be a longtime lead supporter of the EDCO Annual Luncheon.  We are honored to serve as a valued partner in the community and appreciate the collaboration with EDCO as they work to advance the region’s economy to benefit all Central Oregonians.”

The event began with a panel discussion of regional employers discussing their strategies in attracting and retaining talent. Leaders from Sisters-based Personalized Nutrients, Redmond-based BASX Solutions and Bend-based Seran Bioscience, who have collectively added over 200 employees over the past year, discussed how they have leveraged Central Oregon’s outdoor amenities to attract talent to the area and focused on company culture and employee benefits to retain those employees.

The panel was moderated by Evan Dickens, CPA and Shareholder at Jones and Roth CPAs & Business Advisors, a keynote sponsor of the event, who said, “It was a pleasure to be part of this discussion with three excellent companies of different sizes, hearing their wisdom and experiences related to an issue that affects all employers in Central Oregon. No matter how small or large a company, there were great and relevant takeaways to be found in the panelist responses. The panel continued EDCO’s proud history of producing an outstanding and valuable annual luncheon.”

The keynote, presented by Brian Beaulieu of ITR Economics, started with a call to business leaders. “Do not let the fear that is out there sway you from investing in yourselves, your people and your growth…you’ve got to put your pedal to the metal and keep on keeping on,” he said.

Based on his research, there will be a mild economic slowdown in the second half of 2023 being pushed primarily by actions of the Federal Reserve and supply chain issues related to the pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine; however, the economy will be mostly recovered by 2025 and there will be a time of economic growth for the United States through 2029.

Despite concerns over inflationary pressures and foreign threats, the United States economy was predicted to retain its strength as the global leader for the next 100 years. Beaulieu explained that historic and future longevity is due to a growing population, abundant natural resources and rule of law with an independent judiciary system, independent property rights and functional bankruptcy laws.

“When you read some headline or hear some news that makes you question America’s future, I want you to stop, take a breath and thank God you are an American because we own this future,” said Beaulieu.

Following these predictions, the economist suggested Central Oregon business owners should look for opportunities to onshore their supply chains and investments and focus on their margins by leveraging the producer price index as a guide for customer pricing inflations. Beaulieu emphasized, “You can actually make money and improve your margins by inflation.”

Other suggestions included building relationships with local and regional bankers because as credit tightens and the economy slows in late 2024 and early 2025, access to capital will be key. Beaulieu noted that he predicts the labor market will be tight through 2032 and that businesses need to automate processes wherever possible in order to remain competitive. Last, but certainly not least, Beaulieu ended the presentation with a focus on driving appreciation and education of the sciences, engineering and trades.

ITR Economics publishes regular free economic updates. To receive these emails, visit their website.

Finding the Right Formula for Growth at Personalized Nutrients

Personalized Nutrients staff photo 2023

EDCO’s Annual Luncheon, featuring CEO and Chief Economist Brian Beaulieu of ITR Economics™, included a panel of local employers talking about their strategies to acquire and retain employees in Central Oregon. One of those employers is the growing nutraceuticals company Personalized Nutrients, based in Sisters, Oregon. EDCO sat down with General Manager Sam Meier to hear about the company’s human resource strategies.

Company Spotlight

In the small industrial park on the north side of Sisters, Personalized Nutrients is mixing up high-quality, fresh, individualized supplements for doctors and patients around the country. Started by Justin DeTurris and Pete Duenes in 2012, Personalized Nutrients offers custom formulated supplements for integrative medical practitioners. The company’s proprietary online ordering system streamlines workflows to allow medical professionals the freedom to formulate over 400 ingredient choices of high-end vitamins, minerals, amino acids, botanicals, and nutraceuticals in small-batch, private label supplement capsules that are unique to patient needs. The process allows for the highest level of quality assurance, but it is a labor-intensive endeavor and staffing is critical to meet demand.

The global personalized nutrition and supplements market size was estimated at $43.4 billion in 2022 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 15% from 2023 to 2030 (source: Grand View Research). Personalized Nutrients owns a niche in the market by providing short lead times for high quality product orders ranging from individualized made-to-order nutritional prescriptions to condition specific formulations up to 5,000+ bottles.

General Manager Sam Meier understands that a strong team is key to continued growth and has been focused on building community within the organization since joining the team in February 2022. Sam shows his commitment each morning, riding into work with his team via Personalized Nutrients’ Commute Options Vanpool. The program provides an affordable, reliable commute for employees while reducing traffic congestion and parking needs for the community. This effort has been so well received that Sam now offers two vanpools for his team, one from Redmond and one from Bend.

Each month, staff celebrate achievements across departments with catered lunches and Sam recognizes that as a growing employer in Sisters, it is important to be a part of the community. To that end, he has engaged with local newspapers to advertise jobs and has eyes on volunteer programs that will incentivize staff to volunteer with local nonprofits.

“Observing bad bosses, in my professional past and bad coaches has taught me to lead the way I would want to be led. I try to put people into positions where they will be successful and utilize their skills and talents, so they are content with where they work,” explained Sam.

Listed as one of the Top 10 Largest Employers in Sisters, Sam’s focused efforts on building corporate culture to attract and retain employees has proven a winning strategy. With help from Pride Staff and Express Employment Professionals, Personalized Nutrients has added seven employees to their team and doubled production since March. Looking forward, Sam plans to open seven or eight additional positions this June with a new weekend shift that will mean the facility is operating seven days a week.

“Opening up a weekend shift will give us access to a new pool of talent. Working three 12-hour shifts – Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays – in Central Oregon is pretty incredible. It gives employees flexibility to take advantage of the outdoor amenities with less traffic and adds capacity to the rest of our operations,” said Sam.

In addition to attracting talent, the weekend shift will alleviate space concerns for the growing company. Beyond adding shifts, the company is looking to expand and is in the permitting process for a second building next to its current facility. It is also making investments into machinery that will add efficiencies to packaging and bottling processes. There isn’t a perfect recipe for growth, but Sam knows that maintaining corporate culture is critical to retaining staff.

He explained, “The business model of small-batch manufacturing requires a lot of human capital, but I recognize that adding employees can create cultural issues and really strive to maintain open, clear lines of communication with our team.”

EDCO Releases Largest Employers Lists for Central Oregon

Central Oregon Top Employer text over image of river rocks

Data Compiled by EDCO Shows Top Public & Private Regional Employers

Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) is pleased to announce the 2023 Central Oregon Largest Employers List, complete with breakouts of the top employers in each Central Oregon community. This data, collected by EDCO annually for the past 22 years, is the most comprehensive major employer list in Central Oregon.

This year the top 50 private companies collectively employ over 20,900 Central Oregonians, or roughly 20% of the region’s Q1 2023 annual average total non-farm employment of 104,450. St. Charles Health System tops the list again, employing 4,400 people regionwide.

The top five traded-sector businesses in the region include:

  1. Bright Wood Corporation (Regional, OR) – The largest independent manufacturer of window and patio door components and engineered dimension lumber in the U.S.
  2. Les Schwab Headquarters & Tire Centers (Regional, OR) – Started as a small shop in Prineville, Oregon in 1952, Les Schwab Tire Centers now employs over 7,000 people across the country.
  3. BASX Solutions (Redmond, OR) – An industry-leader in manufacturing high efficiency data center cooling solutions, cleanroom systems, custom HVAC systems, and modular solutions.
  4. Lonza, formerly Bend Research (Bend, OR) – A leading global provider of integrated healthcare solutions ranging from early phase development to custom development and manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients.
  5. Epic Aircraft, LLC (Bend, OR) – Leading designer and manufacturer of high-performance, all-composite, six-seat single-engine turboprop aircraft.

From wood products and advanced manufacturing to biomedical research, these traded-sector companies diversify our industry mix which insulates our economic viability across the region. These five companies created 486 jobs last year and increased their total combined employment by 16.5%.

Jon Stark, CEO of EDCO, said, “Traded-sector businesses play a pivotal role in stimulating economic growth by infusing new capital into the local economy, ultimately creating a ripple effect of supporting local governments, retail, service, and utility providers. EDCO’s team annually engages with more than 400 traded-sector businesses, equipping them with necessary tools and resources to tackle various challenges such as workforce, access to capital, incentives, land use, physical space needs, permitting, and other hurdles. As the backbone of Central Oregon’s economic stability, these employers have been instrumental in driving employment growth across the region, and we’re proud of their contribution to our community.”

When evaluating the region for investment and new or expanded operations, companies often turn to EDCO for information about the existing employment base and largest private employers from both the traded-sector (high technology, advanced manufacturing and scientific companies) and non-traded sector (retail businesses, education, healthcare, hospitality, construction, etc.). EDCO’s regional list features private (for-profit and non-profit) employers, while those at the community level include both private and public employers.

To view the lists in their entirety, click on the links below:

2023 Central Oregon Largest Private Employers
2023 Central Oregon Largest Employers – Bend
2023 Central Oregon Largest Employers – Redmond
2023 Central Oregon Largest Employers – Sisters
2023 Central Oregon Largest Employers – Sunriver and La Pine
2023 Central Oregon Largest Employers – Jefferson County
2023 Central Oregon Largest Employers – Crook County

Data for the lists is self-reported and not audited, so are only to be used as an informational guideline. Some businesses chose not to participate in these lists and are therefore excluded.