Author Archives: EDCO

Message from the CEO: March 2023

The 82nd Oregon Legislative Assembly convened​ for the 2023 Session on Tuesday, January 17th, and over the next few months, hundreds of bills will be considered. EDCO is hard at work ensuring state and local leaders understand all the direct, indirect, intended, and unintended consequences of their decision-making. EDCO is focused on providing information and education to political leaders on bills that could positively or negatively impact business’s ability to thrive and grow their employment.

While there are several bills in both the House and Senate that could impact businesses, EDCO is most focused on:

  • Preserving and extending the duration of the Enterprise Zone program, an economic development incentive tool that provides temporary property tax abatement to qualified companies who invest in buildings and/or equipment and grow employment. A 2022 study commissioned by Business Oregon found that long-term economic activity was 29 times the value of the initial exempted tax value. As zone managers, EDCO is working with 74 companies that active authorizations, who collectively project the creation of 1,049 jobs and over $1.6 billion in capital investment for Central Oregon.
  • Supporting the Industrial Site Readiness Program which, under the current bills proposed, would provide state support to local communities for infrastructure investments to create more “shovel-ready” land for industrial development. In our region, we have 2,400 acres of industrial land available with lot sizes greater than 20 acres that need infrastructure (i.e. utilities). The Industrial Site Readiness Program, known as RSIS (Regionally Significant Industrial Site), is a performance-based economic development tool that offers state income tax reimbursements to local governments that make industrial sites ready for industrial development.
  • Supporting Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) reform that will increase the filing threshold from $1 million to $5 million. According to research conducted by Oregon Business & Industry, the business tax burden imposed by the state has increased by almost 45% since this legislation passed in 2019. Raising the filing threshold will help many small businesses and ensure that Oregon remains a place where entrepreneurship and businesses can thrive.

We work closely with the Oregon Economic Development Association (OEDA) to stay informed on legislative activity. If you’d like to stay apprised of these and other bills that could impact businesses, the OEDA Bill Tracker is available here.

Brian’s Cabinets

EDCO Member Spotlight with image of custom cabinets and Brian's Cabinets logo

Established in 1977, Brian’s Cabinets is Central Oregon’s largest custom cabinet manufacturer.  Since purchasing the business in 2003, Todd Hakala and his team of professional designers, engineers, craftsmen, and installers have built a reputation for exceptional service and quality. A resident of Bend since childhood, Hakala has navigated through tremendous economic shifts over the past two decades.

“I had to borrow a significant amount of money to purchase the business.  I am fortunate to have a great partner who supported me in this endeavor.  Due to the great recession, it took me over 14 years to pay off all the debt, but it was worth it!  The recession was very tough on our business.  Our revenues went down nearly 75% and we had to layoff many employees.  Luckily, I had 35 employees stay with me through this difficult period and we weathered the storm.” said Hakala, who attributes their success to these dedicated employees and long-standing partnerships with residential builders around Bend.

In 2018 when the manufacturer outgrew its original facility, they began looking for options to build a new facility in Central Oregon. “Our old location was too constrained for the amount of shipping and receiving we do. Customer parking was terrible and we were having a lot of issues with space. We considered moving to Redmond but so many of our customers and employees are in Bend so when we evaluated options for the new facility, we knew we wanted to stay here,” said Hakala.

Kevin Spencer, of Empire Construction, helped to identify a 3.5-acre parcel of land off Sockeye Place and EDCO worked with the City of Bend and Empire Construction to champion the project and navigate permits, tax credits and incentives that could be leveraged to keep the growing company in Bend. One of these incentives was the Enterprise Zone program, which encourages job creation and investment by eligible businesses by temporarily waiving property taxes.

The new 42,000 square-foot facility in the Northeast industrial sector includes a showroom floor for customers, office and meeting rooms, as well as a 35,000 square-foot manufacturing floor which has created multiple production efficiencies. The facility was designed with sustainable elements such as a dust collection system that also serves to balance the heating and cooling of the facility, creating a more efficient and comfortable environment for the employees.

If you were to walk around the manufacturing floor you would see pictures of families taped to machines that showcase the ripple effect of having strong middle-class employment opportunities for the community. According to a 2021 ECONorthwest study, commissioned by Oregon Business & Industry and the Oregon Business Council, full-time median earnings in manufacturing are 17% greater than the median wage of workers in other industries in the state. The manufacturing industry plays a critical role in the economy, contributing $33 billion to the GDP and 214,000 jobs, according to the same study.

Hakala puts a lot of focus on encouraging employee longevity and knows his customers benefit from the efficiency and quality provided by the team. In addition to 36 craftsmen, Brian’s Cabinet’s team includes numerous engineers, designers, installers, sales, and operations professionals all working together to create and build world-class custom cabinetry for their customers. In addition to an in-house team of installers, he notes that about half of the installers he uses are general contractors who started their careers with Brian’s Cabinets and have gone on to start their own companies. This provides his team with reliable subcontractors who know the business and provides a pool of talented contractors for commercial and residential builders across the Central Oregon region.

Don Myll, EDCO’s Bend Area Director, explains, “Brian’s Cabinets is a valued traded-sector manufacturing company that persevered through the Great Recession and pandemic-related supply chain issues and continues to be a pillar in the local economy. We are fortunate to have Brian’s Cabinets in Bend and I’m glad EDCO was able to support their continued growth.”

We’re Hiring: Director of Membership

Photo of Mount Bachelor

About us

Founded in 1981, EDCO is a non-profit corporation supported by private and public members and stakeholders.  Our mission is to create a diversified local economy and a strong base of middle-income jobs in Central Oregon.  To do this, we focus on helping companies do the following:

MOVE. We attract and guide outside employers through the relocation process as a resource for regional data, incentive, talent, site selection, and more.

START. We mentor and advise scalable young companies from concept to exit on issues such as access to capital, critical expertise, and strategy.

GROW. We partner with local traded-sector companies to help them grow and expand.

Where you get to live!

Bend, Oregon is the mountain town that has it all!  Located in the shadows of the Cascade Mountains and surrounded by numerous lakes and rivers, Central Oregon is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Check out the sights and sounds of Bend at:

About the role

The Director of Membership is responsible for growing and maintaining EDCO’s membership base, which helps fund the organization. It is a very public, outward-facing role designed to share broadly how EDCO’s efforts benefit the Central Oregon region. While the primary focus is membership sales in the Bend area, the position also assists with regional membership objectives that financially support our network of local offices. This is an excellent chance to make an impact within the Central Oregon business community.

The ideal candidate has:

  • Has proven success in previous sales and/or business development roles
  • Understands that “one size doesn’t fit all” in terms of outreach and messaging, and can adapt as needed to effectively deliver the EDCO message appropriately to a wide variety of audiences
  • Possesses personal characteristics like authenticity, a strong work ethic, a desire to learn, humility, accountability, resourcefulness, dependability
  • Has strong written and oral communication skills, can think on their feet, is a self-manager and can manage priorities
  • Can genuinely connect with people and develop a quick rapport, which lends itself to “closing the deal” with new members and as well as retaining existing ones
  • Is familiar with the Central Oregon business community and has a strong motivation to advance EDCO’s mission to strengthen the region’s economy
  • Is an organized, self-driven manager and has excellent follow-through on existing membership retention/leads, while consistently curating new leads
  • Thrives in a collaborative, fun, yet professional team environment where an “all hands on deck” approach is key to the organization’s culture as needed
  • Has an aptitude for CRM systems like ACT!, Salesforce, Executive Pulse, etc., software programs like the Microsoft Office suite of programs, Canva, email tracking software like Hubspot, MixMatch, & Yesware, and email marketing tools like Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, Survey Monkey, etc.

Key responsibilities

  • Growing membership revenue by 20-25% during the current and upcoming fiscal year (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023, and July 1, 2023-June 30, 2024)
  • Conducting research and outreach and executing stewardship plans as needed to identify and cultivate member prospects
  • Managing and maintaining database(s) of new and renewing members
  • Collaborating with EDCO team to build and share a pipeline of leads
  • Working alongside the Director of Marketing and Communications to generate content and write/produce bi-monthly newsletters to support communications related to membership value and return on investment
  • Researching and building target outreach lists and connecting people with resources
  • Tracking metrics and communicating results for the sake of reporting progress as needed
  • Developing and executing on an aggressive sales plan
  • Promoting, creating, managing, and communicating process by which members get elected to serve on the Board of Directors
  • Working with Director of Marketing & Communications to build a strong online presence (website, social media, etc.) as well as membership marketing collateral
  • Attending events (EDCO’s and others) to grow your network, promote membership, etc.
  • Other duties as assigned

Immediate Supervisor:

EDCO Chief Operating Officer

To apply:

For confidential consideration, please submit a resume and cover letter to Sam Lambert, Mid Oregon Personnel at [email protected]


Building Central Oregon’s Local Workforce

Youth CareerConnect interns photo gallery and logo

Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) is committed to helping develop the regional workforce by fostering connections between businesses and local students. Part of that commitment includes managing Youth CareerConnect (YCC), a regional initiative that provides career services and internship opportunities for high school, college and alternative school students.

Since its inception in 2017, YCC has placed over 540 interns across more than 360 Central Oregon businesses. This school year the program has seen a 300% increase in year-over-year engagement numbers, a testament to the effectiveness of the program and thanks to community partners driving awareness.

For students, YCC offers invaluable ‘real-world’ work experience that cannot be simulated in a classroom setting. Iris Lawson, a double-major in Math and Business at OSU-Cascades, started her internship at Farewell Media earlier this semester. After working in various customer service and food industry positions, she applied for an internship to gain professional experiences in her fields of study.

“One of my first projects was helping develop Standard Operating Procedures for Farewell Media, rewriting every instruction on how to develop a website. I’ve learned so much along the way about how to work and communicate in a professional environment. Now my title is Project Manager, and I can apply so many of these skills wherever I go in the future,” explained Lawson.

EDCO employs YCC Internship Coordinators who host weekly office hours at schools across the region, including COCC and the school districts of Jefferson County, Bend-La Pine and Redmond. These Internship Coordinators assist students in identifying professional goals, developing resumes, training for interviews, and matching them with the right opportunity.

Kevin Watkins, CEO of Farewell Media, joined the YCC program as one of the companies offering an internship this year. Farewell Media designs, develops and maintains websites for clients across the region. Watkins’ first intern, Iris Lawson, developed onboarding processes that allowed Farewell Media to bring on an additional three interns who will each be managed by Lawson.

“Iris brought an operational skillset that really expanded our capacity and has been able to take on a client management role. Now we are hosting additional interns that are each helping with specific areas such as content writing, design and marketing our company,” said Watkins.

Another internship host, Highland Veterinary Hospital, also found immediate and long-term organizational benefits from hosting an intern. Andrea White, a receptionist at the clinic, spoke about how their intern, Kayleen Galvan, reinvigorated their culture. “Kayleen came in with such a strong curiosity to learn. It was like a breath of fresh air for the team,” said White.

Youth CareerConnect Regional Managing Director Larry Holeman says, “We’re grateful to East Cascades Works and all our community partners for allowing us to do this work. YCC offers a platform to introduce students to local workforce opportunities and in turn, we are supporting local employers in developing the workforce of the future.”

“We want to make sure Central Oregon students know there are jobs here. They can stay and work in Central Oregon,” explained Brenda Jones, HR Manager at Keith Manufacturing in Madras. Keith Manufacturing has partnered with YCC since its inception and has been a longtime supporter in bringing trades education back into schools.

Jones continued, “We want to introduce students to a variety of opportunities – welding, machining, CAD, marketing, and business operations. We’ve sent our employees into schools and brought in students to teach them about what we do. We offer scholarship opportunities around robotics and engineering. We want to engage students and make sure they know about the variety of employment opportunities available.”

Central Oregon employers looking to get involved in the program can create a profile at

Hand in Hand Productions

Banner Images of Hand in Hand Production audio-visual event setups

Audio-Visual Support For Any Event

The pressure’s on. You have a big idea for the company-wide meeting and your boss expects something special. Something better than the usual snoozer that no one wants to take credit for.

“I can pull it off myself using Zoom or something, right? How hard can it be?”

If you have ever been in charge of running a corporate meeting, fundraiser, auction, or community event, you know how much work goes into it. No doubt you have encountered an unexpected snafu or mid-event glitch that requires agile problem solving.

For nearly 20 years, the team at Hand in Hand Productions has been handling the audio-visual support for some of the best events in Central Oregon. “Our team becomes part of your team to make sure events go off without a hitch,” explains Owner and Founder Matt Hand. “We have the talent and all the technology to turn an ordinary meeting or event into a dynamic, unforgettable show.”

On a local level, Hand In Hand Productions is known for its ability to deploy large crews to handle complex events — and stream them. Additionally, Matt and his team offer clients their state-of-the-art studio that can be transformed with a variety of staging options.

Matt explains, “When we can work with clients before they’ve gone too far in the planning process, we are able to really guide production efforts towards their business goals. For instance, a livestream production can be repurposed into a video series for long-term use like a campaign or even podcasts.”

The key factors to consider when determining which audio-visual technology to use are the desired level of interaction with the audience and what you want attendees to gain from the experience.


Livestreaming is best used to get informational or promotional material out to the world because it offers a one-to-many format. For example, if two or three presenters need to deliver a message to 50 or more people and you would like to offer attendees an opportunity to ask questions or otherwise engage with the presenters, a livestream could be the way to go.

Hand in Hand Productions offers an experienced, behind-the-scenes tech team for Zoom meetings to take the guesswork out.


A virtual event is similar to livestreaming but infers a higher level of interaction between presenters and attendees. Typically, several people will be talking and engaging in forums such as strategy planning sessions, auction bidding or breakout rooms. For example, virtual events are ideal for organizational planning sessions with breakout rooms for multiple teams and these groups can be brought back together to debrief on outcomes.

Hand in Hand Productions can recommend platforms and work with clients to achieve goals around collaboration and meeting format.


Hybrid events typically take place in person as well as virtually and must allow interactions for both audience types. Regardless of the event format, Hand In Hand Productions knows that good content is now, more than ever, story-based. No longer can organizations rely on a simple sales tool or a call to action – it’s important to tell stories through engaging graphics, video and other multimedia content to convey the message.

For more advice on how to tell your story in a way that resonates with your audience and which technologies will ensure the best outcomes, visit

Addressing Website Accessibility

AccessiCart logo

AccessiCart was first established as Bet Hannon Marketing in 2008 and has been remote since the very beginning, with team members from across the US and as far away as South Africa. As an early adopter of remote work, Hannon joined EDCO for the networking. As she says, “Being a part of EDCO has introduced me to a robust group of people who are thinking strategically about the future of Central Oregon. I found my tribe.”

Over the past decade, the company has evolved to meet the changing landscape of website development. Rebranded in 2022, AccessiCart was born out of the need for expertise in improving the user experience for people with disabilities on eCommerce sites.

Hannon recounts, “In 2016, a client who is a large agricultural water district requested help in making their webpage meet new website accessibility standards. Our team got a glimpse of what website accessibility can do for people with disabilities and how it can make a real difference in people’s independence and human dignity when they don’t need to depend on a family member or friend for access to information. Our team coalesced around that mission, and we dove in and took additional training to develop our niche.”

While websites aren’t explicitly included in The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), earlier this year the Department of Justice released “Guidance on Web Accessibility and the ADA.” This guidance is for commercial websites and website-only businesses to meet the standards set by Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The WCAG is an internationally recognized set of standards that can be summarized by four basic principles: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust.

For business owners, complying with these new standards can be an expensive issue. According to UsableNet Inc.’s 2021 Year End Report, an estimated 4,055 ADA-based lawsuits regarding website, mobile app or video content accessibility were filed last year. In response to the pressure, some businesses have turned to automated artificial intelligence overlays but, as noted in a recent New York Times article, these A.I.-powered overlays charge monthly fees of up to $1,000 while failing to provide friendly navigation for people with disabilities.

Hannon emphasizes that avoiding getting sued is only one benefit of making your website more accessible. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 25% of all adults in the United States have some form of a disability, so making your website accessible can allow you to reach a broader market. Additionally, the standards around accessibility improve everyone’s user experience and are often matched with improvements to SEO.

“Making your site more accessible can seem like a daunting task, but even small changes can make a big difference.” Hannon explains, “Things like making your webpages keyboard navigable and ensuring all images have alt text will make your website more accessible for all users and at the end of the day, that’s just the right thing to do.”

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Prineville-based SherpTek receives Excellence in Economic Development Award

SherpTek is the first automotive outdoor industry company in Prineville and the company worked hand-in-hand with Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) to effectively facilitate their 150-mile relocation to the Crook County community. After 13 trips over a mountain pass in the dead of winter to transport gear, they took occupancy and became operational in early Q2 of 2022. The project received the Oregon Economic Development Association’s Excellence in Economic Development: Business Development Success Story Award.

SherpTek was founded in the spirit of adventure, quality design and a love for life and the outdoors.  When searching for a new SherpTek HQ, the company placed an emphasis on the ability of their staff, founders and customers to have easy access to a plethora of outdoor adventures.  Prineville met that need by offering proximity  to several outdoor activities in the nearby high desert, including the Barnes Butte trail system, campgrounds along the Crooked River and Prineville Reservoir, Smith Rock State Park, and the Ochoco National Forest. In addition to offering access to outdoor activities, Prineville also offered affordable industrial space, expedited permitting, a regional hub of composite companies, a skilled manufacturing labor pool, as well as local incentives.

SherpTek was among the first tenants to take occupancy in the redeveloped Woodgrain mill site – rebranded the “Prineville Campus” – which had been closed and inoperable for years after previously being one of the top employers and sole industries in Prineville for decades. A group of developers from Las Vegas purchased the 56-acre property, demolished the dilapidated buildings on the site, and have since began upgrading the ~200,000sf of existing building space to usable spec industrial space since the purchase, with additional building pads for new development.

The SherpTek team includes dedicated designers, engineers and professionals who work hard and play hard. They employ a small and growing team of motivated people who make flatbeds, truck decks and an endless number of accessories to improve the adaptability of various pickup trucks for outdoor adventures. By utilizing composite aerospace materials, their products are lightweight and still strong enough to haul a 5,000-pound camper across rough terrain. The modular system integrated into their products facilitates the quick and easy addition of interchangeable accessories and utilizes often-lost storage space along the side of the truck bed when a camper is in place.

The entire Central Oregon region is an outdoor mecca for visitors and residents, which has brought a cluster of outdoor products companies to the area, which has benefited from the broadening of industries that call the area home, including high technology, advanced manufacturing, building products, bioscience, brewing, general aviation, renewable energy, and more.

SherpTek was one of Prineville’s first companies to pitch at EDCO’s Central Oregon PubTalk, hosted each month at Silver Moon Brewing. Since moving their operation to Prineville in the first half of 2022, SherpTek has ingrained itself into the entrepreneurial fabric of the region. While new to the area, they are already expanding into new space, hiring additional employees and training high school students on their specialized processes and products.  SherpTek is also purchasing new equipment a newly acquired building located adjacent to their current operations, which will help them vertically integrate many of their processes and slash production times from approximately 6-to-8 weeks to 6-to-8 days.

This project has been and continues to be supported by many local and State partners, including EDCO, City of Prineville, Crook County, Business Oregon, COIC/Worksource, OMEP, SBDC, SCORE, as well as financial and supply chain partners.  Support services that have been provided include, but are not limited to: business financing, site selection, permitting assistance, Enterprise Zone approval, CIP utilization, internship coordination, staffing, pitch coaching, venture funding opportunities/structure, network connections, and scaling assistance.

Member Spotlight: CiES

CiES aviation images

Have you ever noticed in movies, anytime something goes wrong with an airplane, the pilot starts tapping on the fuel gauge? As Scott Philiben, President of Bend-based CiES explains, “That actually comes about because small to medium size aircraft haven’t been able to reliably and effectively measure fuel.”

The problem is so well known across the industry that pilots are taught not to trust their fuel gauge but to rely instead on calculations of their aircraft’s fuel burn per flight hour. According to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) ’23.1337(b), “the gauge cannot be depended upon for checking the fuel quantity in a tank. This is especially true of smaller, less sophisticated general aviation aircraft. Visual or physical checking or both are the only safe means of determining the actual quantity of fuel onboard such aircraft.”

Philiben launched CiES in 2010 after working with industry partner Cirrus to solve this critical problem by using patented digital sensor technology that allows accurate fuel measurements to be displayed on screen in the cockpit.  “If pilots have accurate information in the cockpit, they are able to make better decisions about when they need to land,” said Philiben.

Over the last decade, the Bend-based company has grown to be the largest supplier of fuel quantity measuring systems in the world. CiES provides fuel-sensing systems to new aircraft manufacturers and is certified for retrofitting dozens of older airplane models. CiES’ magnetic field sensing technology is the preferred product for Garmin Aviation Displays and is used by customers around the world including Cirrus, Cessna and Daher aircrafts.

The company saw a 40% growth in sales in 2020 – 2021 and has sold over 100,000 units since 2010, bringing an estimated $50 million in revenue back into the local economy. According to a recent article in Fortune, private aviation has seen record growth since the start of the pandemic with monthly private flights up 30% since 2019.

Philiben explained that a growing interest in private aircraft travel for convenience as well as modernization of aircraft that makes it less daunting to learn how to fly have created a real boom market for small aircraft manufacturers.

“Personal aviation transportation is an emergent technology field. There are billions of dollars in investment being made by major players in the transportation industry, such as Toyota, Boeing, Airbus, and major airlines. A growing part of this push is autonomous flight; requiring no pilot or pilot skills to operate a plane.”

Philiben continued, “CiES basically builds intelligent and accurate sensing systems. This core capability is being expanded into a larger range of products like angle of attack, haptic systems, throttles, and flight controls. These systems and interfaces as well as accurate fuel quantity will be necessary for safe autonomous or semi-autonomous flight.”

Central Oregon offers the right mix of talent and resources to attract a diverse group of aviation companies to operate in the area. With three General Aviation and Commercial/GA airports and a growing regional airport, the aviation industry has an important place in the region with companies like Stratos Aircraft, KDE Direct, Kawak Aviation, Composite Approach, Epic Aircraft, and RDD Enterprises all calling Central Oregon home.

As a Titanium level EDCO member, CiES is actively engaged in fostering continued industry growth and diversification in Central Oregon. Next year, CiES will move into the former KOHD studio building in Bend, which will allow them to do more intensive manufacturing in-house. The company is looking to bring an electric braking system to market amid growing sales in parcel delivery and marine and helicopter sensing systems.

Philiben spoke of future innovation, saying, “CiES is positioned ideally as an FAA-certified manufacturing facility and is presently working with several manufacturers to support a larger range of products. We are continuing to see double-digit expansion and growth, especially as we move into our new facility next year. You think it’s a small market, but we really captured an interesting niche that has allowed us to scale very organically.”

Seven Companies Receive Investments at the 2022 Bend Venture Conference

BEND, Ore. – October 23, 2022 – Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) hosted the 19th Annual Bend Venture Conference (BVC) at the Tower Theatre in Downtown Bend. During the conference, 14 finalists presented their ideas and business models to an audience of hundreds in hopes of gaining investment from prominent funds. Of those finalists, seven companies were awarded a total of $665,000 in investments. Additional investment deals are still being finalized.

“After months of meetings between our companies and investors, it is hugely rewarding to see the response. Companies and investors from around the country have been exposed to Bend and we’ll continue to foster these relationships and offer resources and support,” explained Deanne Buck, EDCO’s Venture Catalyst. “This program wouldn’t be possible without our partners and Oregon-based funding entities including Portland Seed Fund and Elevate Capital.”

Each fall, the BVC LLC fund and the BVC Impact LLC fund are raised from individual investors to invest in the conference Growth Stage and Impact finalists. Beginning in August, applicants for both tracks began meeting with investors from both funds. Meanwhile, applicants in the Early Stage track were evaluated by investors at Portland Seed Fund, who have led the BVC Early Stage investment since 2018.

Jenn Lynch, Fund Manager for the BVC Growth Stage and Impact funds, said, “The BVC Conference Fund investors were so impressed with the caliber of the businesses that elected to pitch. The investors put in a significant amount of work in the weeks preceding the conference – they’re truly invested in these businesses in more ways than one. We’re thrilled to welcome these new companies to the BVC Fund portfolio and look forward to their success.”

This year’s award breakdown is as follows:

Growth Stage

The Growth Stage Competition is for companies that have a proven concept and initial revenues. The finalists that walked away with investment awards this year are:

  • Minnow Technologies (Seattle, WA) – A cloud-connected delivery hub (called a “pod”) that makes food delivery efficient and reliable was awarded $185,000 from the BVC LLC.
  • Wild Rye (Sun Valley, ID) – A women’s outdoor brand crafting beautiful and technical mountain apparel that fits, inspires confidence and welcomes more women into the outdoors was awarded $65,000 from the BVC LLC.


The Impact Competition features for-profit companies with integrated social or environmental missions. The companies that received investments this year are:

  • Ethicann Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Bethesda, MD) – A biotechnology company developing high-value, cannabinoid-based drug therapies using a development strategy of reformulating approved drugs into safer and equally efficacious drugs was awarded $60,000 from the BVC Impact LLC.
  • Photon Marine (Portland, OR) – A company that designs and develops an electric outboard motor system and intelligent fleet management software for commercial boat fleets was awarded $45,000 from the BVC Impact LLC, with follow on investments of $150,000 from Elevate Innovation Gap Fund II and $40,000 from Portland Seed Fund.

Early Stage

Each year Portland Seed Fund (PSF) commits to writing a $30,000 check to at least one BVC Early Stage company. Steve Eichenlaub and Angela Jackson, Managing Directors of Portland Seed Fund IV, evaluated applications and met with founders over the last few months.

“We were blown away. The quality gets better each and every year. In the end, we ended up writing four $40,000 checks,” exclaimed Jackson.

Ultimately, Portland Seed Fund IV awarded $160,000 across four finalists – three Early Stage and one Impact – at Friday’s conference. These companies will join the ranks of Clean Age and Reperio as Portland Seed Fund IV’s latest investments.

The BVC Early Stage companies that received investments are:

  • (Portland, OR) – An OTT app for Latinos that solves the problem of the lack of Latino news, opinion and sports on Roku, IOS and Android was awarded $40,000 from PSF.
  • Osheru (Bend, OR) – A device that simplifies upper eyelid surgery to make this vision and appearance enhancing procedure available to anyone was awarded $40,000 from PSF.
  • Range Revolution (Madras, OR) – The world’s first leather luggage company using only traceable and regenerative hides was awarded $40,000 from PSF.

**All investments are awarded following considerable due diligence of each of the presenting finalists. Investments and follow-on deals are still being finalized.

About Bend Venture Conference (BVC)
The Annual BVC, hosted by EDCO, is one of the largest angel conferences in the country. Over the past 19 years, BVC has served to evolve and grow the startup ecosystem throughout Central Oregon and across the Pacific Northwest. Since its inception, more than $11 million has been invested in 52 companies as a result of the conference. This year’s conference gathered entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders, and students at the Tower Theatre in Bend, Oregon on October 20-21, 2022.

Meta Champions Workforce Development in Central Oregon with $250,000 Grants

October 14, 2022 (Prineville, Ore.) – Four Central Oregon entities—East Cascades Works, Crook County School District, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and EDCO’s Youth CareerConnect—are receiving grants totaling $250,000 from Meta to support youth workforce development and career skills training across Central Oregon. The funding bolsters the Central Oregon component of Future Ready Oregon, a new statewide workforce investment package, and aims to increase career training for priority populations in Central Oregon, including people of color, members of tribes and people in rural communities.

Jon Stark of EDCO, William Marks of Meta, and Heather Ficht of East Cascades Works

Jon Stark of EDCO, William Marks of Meta, and Heather Ficht of East Cascades Works at Meta’s Prineville Data Center

Approximately $3.8 million of the $200 million Future Ready Oregon initiative has been allocated to the East Cascades workforce area—which includes 10 counties east of the Cascades—as part of the initiative’s Prosperity 10,000 program, which will provide career coaching, occupational training, job placement services and more to at least 10,000 Oregonians. With Meta’s support, that investment is now over $4 million. Registered apprenticeship programs, youth programs, and workforce readiness grants supported by Meta’s funding will prioritize construction, manufacturing and technology sectors.

“Meta is proud to be a part of Central Oregon since we broke ground on our Prineville Data Center in 2010, and we’re also a huge supporter of workforce development and STEM-related Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs,” said William Marks, community development manager at Meta. “We saw a unique opportunity to help increase the impact of Future Ready Oregon in Central Oregon and provide more work-based learning opportunities for underrepresented groups, and we’re thrilled to partner with East Cascades Works, Crook County School District, Confederated Tribes of Warms Springs and Youth CareerConnect for this program.”

“We are so fortunate in Central Oregon to have Meta as a partner to help cultivate our homegrown talent pipeline. Young people will have more opportunities to explore and launch in their career pathway in Central Oregon, thanks to Meta’s generosity,” said Heather Ficht, executive director of East Cascades Works.

The specific funding allocation, administered by and through East Cascades Works, includes:

  • Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs ($50,000) – Support for the expansion of their workforce and education programming around career exposure, work readiness training, skill building and advanced training opportunities.
  • Crook County School District ($50,000) – Funding for a STEM and graphic design lab build-out, including materials and equipment, to ensure youth have access to relevant leading-edge technologies.
  • East Cascades Works ($100,000) – Support for emergent workforce and special populations—including English language learners, justice-impacted individuals and BILAPOC-identified individuals—through programs that help increase wages for those who are employed and/or career attachment for those not working, with a special focus on target industry careers in technology, construction, manufacturing and health care.
  • Youth CareerConnect ($50,000) – Support for this Central Oregon internship program that focuses on retaining young talent and work readiness training for people ages 16 to 24.

“This generous donation from Meta helps equip Crook County students with the most up-to-date technology,” said Joel Hoff, assistant superintendent of Crook County School District.Meta’s continued support helps ensure that every Crook County student graduates college- and career-ready.”