Author Archives: EDCO

We’re Hiring – Sunriver/La Pine Area Managing Director

**Application Process Now Closed**

Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) works to build a stronger, more stable and diversified local economy.  We are currently looking for a Sunriver/La Pine Area Managing Director to execute the plans and programs of business retention/expansion and recruitment for projects within the La Pine and Sunriver areas. This position will assist in creating and retaining primary employment in the communities of South Deschutes County. This is an excellent chance to make an impact within the Central Oregon business community.

Want more information? The job description and application information are just a click away.

We’re Hiring – Director of Membership

Director of Membership Applications Being Accepted

Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) works to build a stronger, more stable, and diversified local economy.  We are hiring our very first Director of Membership to actively develop our membership base. This role will be outward facing in the community in sharing how EDCO benefits our region as a whole. This is an excellent chance to make an impact within the Central Oregon business community.

 Want more information? The job description and how to apply are just a click away.

Oregon Entrepreneurs Network Announces 2017 Angel Oregon Semifinalists


BEND, OR (March 8, 2017) –  Out of 101 applications, three Bend-based companies and one Bend Venture Conference Winner have advanced through the next round of cuts in Oregon Entrepreneurs Network’s (OEN) 2017 Angel Oregon Program. These four semifinalists are part of an elite group of only ten companies in the Early Stage Semifinalists category.

Ripclear, Pierce Footwear, and Color Kitchen are all from Bend, and Outdoor Project took home a top prize during EDCO’s 2016 Bend Venture Conference. These four companies will compete for a spot to present at OEN’s Angel Oregon Showcase April 27th in Portland. The winner of the showcase has historically been awarded a prize worth over $200,000.

Additionally, cash prizes and loans for the top women and minority-owned businesses will be awarded at the event.

The finalists will be announced on or before March 23. Congratulations to all four companies still in the competition!

  • Pierce Footwear: “We re-invent the shoe.”
  • ColorKitchen: “Naturally vibrant food colors and artificial dye-free, plant-based, and non-GMO decorative kits for the health-conscious home-baker and bakeries.”
  • Ripclear: “Ripclear lens protectors are a patented thin film technology that protects eyewear lenses & meets ANSI Z87 military rated clarity. Screen protectors for lenses.”
  • Outdoor Project: “With 5.5 MILLION users and 700% year-over-year growth, the fastest growing website in the U.S. for outdoor recreation and travel.”

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

About Bend Venture Conference
Bend Venture Conference, hosted by EDCO, is one of the largest angel conferences in the country. More than 500 attendees, six funds, 32 prominent investors, and 90 companies participated in 2016’s conference, where close to $4 million was awarded to 10 winners.
For Press Inquiries:
Elise Rossman
Director of Marketing and Communications, EDCO
541.388.3236 x6




BEND, OR (March 1, 2017) – Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) announced the speakers for the next PubTalk to be held Thursday, March 23, 5pm at McMenamins in Downtown Bend. Tickets are on sale now and available here.

EDCO’s Central Oregon PubTalk, held the fourth Thursday of the month, is a happy hour aimed at bringing together different facets of the business community in one place to network, share ideas and further local businesses. Where Beers and Business Collide!

Keynote Speakers:

DocuSign, Seven Peaks Ventures
Tom Gonser, founder of DocuSign and Partner at Seven Peaks Ventures, will be this month’s keynote, interviewed by his colleague Corey Schmid, Partner at Seven Peaks Ventures. Gonser founded DocuSign 13 years ago. As CEO and chief strategist, he navigated the company through explosive growth and hundreds of millions in funding, while turning the company into an industry leader.

Company Pitches:
The Water Kefir People
Jacinda Swan, CEO and Founder of The Water Kefir People, has been brewing and fermenting Water Kefir in Hawaii since 2015. She and her partner created a handcrafted dairy-free probiotic beverage line. Recently relocated from the Hawaiian island of Kauai, Swan is excited about the business climate and potential to expand the business in Bend.

Kami Semick, Co-Founder & CEO, helped establish Food4All, a farm-to-table commerce and business management platform creating a dynamic online marketplace for selling, buying, distributing, and delivering local food. Food4All supports sustainable, healthy communities by making it easy to find and buy fresh food from local farms and artisan food producers. Simply browse the app, locate farms in your area and place an order for local products.

Company Update:

Justin Johnson, CEO of LeadMethod, a software company helping sales teams and companies maximize leads. LeadMethod is a revolutionary software platform built specifically for companies selling through an outside channel of distributors and independent representatives, helping them automate the lead capture and distribution process, generate real-time feedback from their channel partners, and make data-driven decisions to increase sales.

5:00 pm to 6:00 pm Networking – Drinks and appetizers
6:00 pm to 6:45 pm Company Presentations
6:45 pm to 7:30 pm Keynote Speaker Presentation

Cost and Registration 
$25 EDCO & OEN Members
$35 Non-Members
Cost includes appetizers and a free beverage (choice of beer, wine, or soda)

Contact Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO): or 541-388-3236 x3.



BEND, OR (February 27, 2017) – The Los Angeles-based Milken Institute released the findings to its most recent Best Performing Small Cities study, affirming the Bend-Redmond area as number one in the country. The Milken Institute has tracked and evaluated the success of metropolitan areas in its Best-Performing Cities index since 1999, highlighting urban regions that are outperforming their peers on key measures of economic health, including total employment and wage growth.

Led by economist Minoli Ratnatunga and a team of research analysts at the Institute, conclusions from their investigation included a list of nine “key findings” across a broad spectrum of factors. While some success factors were specific to the location (i.e. scenic beauty), several policies and strategies employed in the Bend-Redmond area could be implemented in similar regions across the country. The just released “Regional Performance Over Time” research aims to identify those elements.

“We really enjoyed learning more about the extremely collaborative approach the Bend-Redmond region continually takes towards development and think it bodes well for your economy,” stated Minoli Ratnatunga, Associate Director of Regional Economics Research at the Milken Institute. We hope that the lessons learned from Central Oregon will be of use to local decision-makers across the country.”

This past fall, Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) helped Milken Institute researchers with introductions to individuals and organizations across the area that could provide perspectives and illuminate strategies and efforts to improve and diversify the economy.

“It was an honor to work with the Milken Institute economists, and to be selected for this study,” said Roger Lee, EDCO Executive Director. “We will be following their ongoing research about other places in the country from which we can learn and improve.”

For the complete study, click here.

About The Milken Institute

The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank determined to increase global prosperity by advancing collaborative solutions that widen access to capital, create jobs, and improve health. They achieve this through independent, data-driven research, action-oriented meetings, and meaningful policy initiatives. For more information, visit

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

For Press Inquiries:
Roger Lee
Executive Director, EDCO
541.388.3236 x1


South Deschutes County Emerging as Next Economic Development Opportunity

Excerpt from Cascade Business News:

“Sunriver, Three Rivers South, and La Pine are poised for growth!  Perhaps now more than ever South County is in a position to grow. Infrastructure is solid and growing, the community united around growth, available property in our 330-acre business park, enterprise zone benefits,  great changes/expansion on the Hwy 97 corridor.  All that combined with low business start-up costs and it spells economic vitality. South county is poised and ready, ” according to Steve Parnell, the EDCO Sunriver-La Pine area director. Parnell works with Economic Development of Central Oregon (EDCO), Sunriver-LaPine Economic Development Advisory Board (SLED) to jumpstart projects and businesses throughout South Deschutes County or Newberry Country.


For the complete story, visit Cascade Business News.

Outdoor Project, 2016 BVC Winners, Awarded Additional $2M in Funding

Outdoor Project Logo

Outdoor Project Secures Series A Funding
— $2M investment will drive nationwide expansion —
— Oregon Angel Fund leads the round with Cascade Angels’ support —
— Company was awarded $150k as winners of 2016 Bend Venture Conference —

BEND, OR (February 23, 2017) – Local startup Outdoor Project—found online at—announced this week that it has secured a total of $2M in a Series A funding round. This past October, Outdoor Project was awarded $150,000 in funding as part of the Bend Venture Conference.

The most recent investment was led by Oregon Angel Fund, and includes Cascade Angels. Outdoor Project is Oregon Angel Fund’s first digital media investment and the second to be added to Cascade Angels’ portfolio. The round includes participation from other angel investors and industry veterans from the digital media and outdoor industries.

“When we first met with Outdoor Project, we were immediately impressed by their team. They are clearly very passionate and knowledgeable about the outdoors and have created a great way to share experiences with other passionate enthusiasts,” said Jon Maroney, a partner at Oregon Angel Fund.  “ OAF is very excited to be part of Outdoor Project’s adventure.”

Julie Harrelson, Fund Manager for Cascade Angels, added “we are pleased to be making this investment in Outdoor Project. Outdoor Project impressed our team with their growing track record of success over the past three years. This is our sixth and final investment for 2016 and we’re excited to be an integral part of their business.”

Tyson Gillard, Co-Founder and CEO at Outdoor Project commented, “Closing this funding round is tremendous validation for the quality work our contributors and team put into building the world’s greatest outdoor adventure guidebook. Great media, detailed maps and inspiring, complete content is a key piece to support an ever-growing movement for people, largely millennials and young families, to get outside. We’re excited to expand our content to the entire U.S. and key markets in Canada in 2017.”

Outdoor Project will use a portion of the funding to add five new hires to support its six person founding team. It will also bring on more adventurers to join its nearly 200 active contributors who provide the media and information used to build adventures on the website. The company will announce these key industry hires as well as new board members in the coming weeks.

Gillard concluded, “Building a successful digital media company requires a great team that understands how brands can leverage great content to connect with their target audience, and we’ve been fortunate to add some amazing industry insiders to the business.”

About Outdoor Project

Outdoor Project’s goal is to create the most comprehensive online resource and the largest community for outdoor adventure and travel, with a plan to revolutionize the way that people find, search for and share their outdoor experience. The website provides photos, maps, and guides for all types of human-powered outdoor activities. The content aims to inspire users to explore new places, head a little bit further down their favorite trails, and get outside more often to find adventure. Outdoor Project starts with exceptional photography and adventure videos, custom maps, and guides. A community of members completes the picture. Outdoor Project can be found at

About Oregon Angel Fund

Founded in 2007, OAF is a community supported, professionally managed, investor driven venture capital fund backed by the leaders of Oregon’s business, technology, and entrepreneurial communities. The fund’s largest investors include the State of Oregon, the Oregon Community Foundation, and the Meyer Memorial Trust. OAF invests $10 million annually in the most promising startups and early-stage growth companies in Oregon and SW Washington. Over 2,200 jobs have been created by the over 40 companies in the portfolio. For more information please visit:

About Cascade Angels

Founded in 2013, Cascade Angels is a professionally managed, investor driven venture fund that creates opportunities for investors and businesses with connections to Central Oregon to drive economic growth and fuel prosperity. The Fund’s investors include prominent business leaders, exited entrepreneurs and institutional investors who are committed to contributing to a sustainable economy and building Oregon’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Since 2014, Cascade Angels Fund has invested almost $2M in 13 early stage companies that cumulatively employ over 100 people. For more information, visit or

About the Bend Venture Conference
The Bend Venture Conference, hosted by Economic Development for Central Oregon, is one of the largest angel conferences in the country. More than 500 attendees, six funds, 32 prominent investors, and 90 companies participated in 2016’s conference, where close to $4 million was awarded to 12 winners.


Free Advice: 5 ways to improve your start-up pitch

EDCO Central Oregon BVC Bend Venture Conference

Brian Vierra, EDCO’s Venture Catalyst, provides five ways to improve your business pitch. Vierra has both pitched — and sold — a business to investors. He exited a corporate training company he founded in 2007. He also happens to be on the investor committee for the Oregon Angel Fund. In that capacity, he reviews dozens of pitches a month to determine whether they are worthy of investment.

And finally, as the organizer of the upcoming Bend Venture Conference, he’s currently helping review pitches from both the launch and concept stage companies. It’s basically all pitches, all the time. So here is Vierra’s free advice for making your pitch stand out.

1. Clearly state the problem your business is going to solve.

Before you even go into what your company does, Vierra wants to know what problem you’re addressing and why your business is coming into existence right now. “I’ve gone through a couple of companies where it doesn’t look like there’s a problem to solve,” Vierra says. “You have to hit people at their pain points. That’s one of the success factors.”

2. Use more pictures in your presentation.

“Every once in a while I’ll see a slide that is 10 different bullet point,” Vierra says. “No one is going to read all that.” Vierra likes to see pictures, graphs and charts that illustrate the problem your business is trying to solve and your solution. “Investors want it to be easy to move forward,” he says. “If it’s a struggle and they need to make a huge effort to understand what you do, you decrease the odds of them becoming involved.”

3. Assume in your revenue projections that you’ve already received funding.

“I’ve seen two kind of projections, one that shows what happens if they get the funding. And another where the founders assume they won’t get any funding and then project what their numbers are going to look like,” Vierra says. The latter fizzles because it reveals no ambition. “If you’re asking for $500,000 or $1 million, I want to know what you’re going to do with it and what that will look like,” he says.

4. Focus, focus, focus.

Entrepreneurs have big ideas. Usually lots of them. But they often forget that this is the first time an investor is being exposed to their first and best idea, and the speed right past it.

“You can’t immediately jump into your other streams of revenue and other partnerships and how you can do this thing or that,” Vierra says. “Slow down. Go back to what is the first business idea and how big can that get.” Once you set the hook, you want to reel those fish in, instead of trying to bait them with even more hooks.

5. D.U.A (Don’t Use Acronyms)

Investors consider lots of pitches from a wide variety of industries. It’s challenging to stay current on the all the acronyms and jargon in your business. Instead of boggling their mind with an alphabet soup, make it easy for investors (and, ahem, bloggers) to understand what you do. “As an investor, when you start hearing about things you’re unfamiliar with, you begin to question whether you know enough to jump in and be of help,” Vierra says.

Interview with McConnell Labs CEO, Jim McConnell

First, your girlfriend (now your wife) comes up with an idea for your business that ends up turning into your life’s work. Then your business grows and you become more and more successful. What’s the next step? You decide to relocate your business to the community where your in-laws have moved. After all, in a very direct way, they are responsible for so many good things in your life.

However, moving a successful manufacturing business from Eugene to Bend is not a simple process. There’s finding a site, seeking tax credits, moving and recruiting employees. “The people in Redmond made it as easy as possible to relocate,” says Jim McConnell, CEO. “From the realtor who dropped everything to send me pictures of the building we ended up buying that very day he sent the pictures, to the REDI people who helped me fill out enterprise paperwork, to the fire marshal who volunteered to stop by on her way home from work to just to give some quick feedback on how we were setting up the manufacturing lines.”

Three years later, Jim and his wife, Lezlie, along with their children and her parents are an integral part of Central Oregon’s family. The benefits to Jim are clear – an integration of his work and family life. The benefit are also clear in the community – an entrepreneur dedicated to growing his business that exports throughout the country and the world plus a local business owner invested in his community.

Visit the McConnell Labs website for more information!

– This Move business story brought to you by Lisa Dobey, EDCO Volunteer

Ochoco Arms – Where are they now

Ochoco Arms, 2013 Bend Venture Conference Concept Stage Winner

Less than a year ago, Prineville-based Ochoco Arms won the Bend Venture Conference Concept-Stage Division, taking home the $10,000 prize presented by BendBroadband. We touched base with CEO Sam Lambert to get an update on the company and learn what has transpired in the past year.

When it comes to the outdoors, Central Oregon is overflowing with opportunity. From Mount Bachelor to the high desert, businesses are building up around the area’s recreational bounty to take advantage of what our region has to offer.

Sam Lambert is one of those entrepreneurs who has taken his recreational passion – in his case, hunting and shooting sports — to invent a laser sight to improve shotgun accuracy. That vision spawned Ochoco Arms, the Bend Venture Conference Concept Stage winner in 2013.

Competing in last year’s Bend Venture Conference, Lambert thought that he might be able to get experience presenting his business plan, make some connections, and meet investors.

“What I didn’t anticipate was the awareness and recognition that winning would get from the major players in the firearms industry. They discovered Ochoco Arms because of BVC,” said Lambert. “We’ve been discovered by key advisors, engineers and potential partners. BVC has opened the floodgates of interest and that took us by surprise.”

Ochoco Arms is one of many businesses in Central Oregon that form a hub of innovation in the firearms industry, which is seeing great success and draws national and international attention to the region.

“BVC has become such a prestigious event that it brings a lot of attention to the young companies that present there,” says Lambert. However, for Ochoco Arms, the tremendous attention has caused some challenges.

“Ochoco Arms has been approached with a lot of opportunities for strategic partnerships. Not all are a great fit, but the attention is opening doors that will benefit us when we get our product into the market. Entering BVC was the single best decision I have made for my company,” said Lambert.

Ochoco Arms is in the final stages of engineering its shotgun laser site and is on schedule to launch in early 2015.

Watch Lambert’s BVC winning Ochoco Arms presentation. For more information on Ochoco Arms, visit the website, Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter.