Author Archives: Edcoevents

Forbes: Bend, Ore., Heads The Best Small Cities For Business And Careers 2016

BEND, Ore. – October 19th, 2016 – Bend, Ore., was hammered by the Great Recession as unemployment peaked at 17.2% in March 2009. Home prices fell more than 50% from their 2006 highs and new construction ground to a halt. Residents coined the phrase “poverty with a view” for the picturesque Central Oregon locale.

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Over $3,755,000 in Funding Awarded at the Bend Venture Conference

BEND, Ore. – October 14, 2016 – Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) hosted the 13th Annual Bend Venture Conference (BVC) to a sold-out crowd and just announced the winners of $3,755,000 in investments and cash prizes, setting a new record for Oregon angel conferences. Side investment deals are still being finalized.

Growth Stage Competition

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

Winners of BVC, LLC, Investment Awards*:

  • Hubb (Vancouver, Wash.), a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that automates the business process for collecting, managing and marketing the abstracts, speakers and sponsors for conferences and meetings, was awarded $140,000.
  • A secondary investment of $100,000 was awarded to RFPIO Inc.(Portland, Ore.), a SaaS solution that streamlines the RFP response process and increases the win rate through automation, collaboration and Salesforce integration.

Winner of a Business Oregon Award:

  • Fat Chance Bicycles (Ashland, Ore.), an iconic heritage mountain bike brand, was awarded $100,000 by Business Oregon.

Winners of Cascade Angels Fund Investment Awards:

  • Hubb was awarded $175,000.
  • A secondary investment of $150,000 was awarded to Outdoor Project (Portland, Ore.), the fastest growing media platform in the U.S. for outdoor recreation and travel.

Winners of Elevate Capital Investment Awards:

  • Hubbwas awarded $450,000.
  • A second investment of $250,000 was awarded to RFPIO.
  • A third investment of $125,000 was awarded to Scout Military Discount(Portland, Ore.), an app that allows the military community to receive discounts, offers and special savings.

Winner of the Oregon Angel Fund (OAF) Investment Award:

  • Hubbwas awarded $1,750,000.

*The investment arm of the conference, BVC, LLC, awarded the Growth Stage investments following considerable due diligence of each of the five presenting finalists. The investment included $25,000 from Oregon Community Foundation and $50,000 from Oregon Growth Account.

Social Impact Competition

The Social Impact Competition, which included for-profit companies with an integrated social or environmental mission, had three different winners.

Winners of BVC, LLC, Investment Awards:

  • Hemex Health (Portland, Ore.), a company that provides new diagnostics for malaria and sickle cell disease, was awarded $50,000.
  • A second investment of $50,000 was awarded to OpConnect (Portland, Ore.), a company that sells and operates smart electric vehicle charging stations.

Winner of a Craft3 Investment Award:

  • Sudara (Bend, Ore.), a company that designs and manufactures beautiful products in India, creating jobs for survivors of sex-trafficking, was awarded $250,000.

Winner of an Elevate Capital Investment Award:

Early Stage Competition

Winner of the BendBroadband Business Early Stage Competition:

  • CushCore (Bend, Ore.) won the $15,000 BendBroadband Business Early Stage Cash Prize. For this competition, conference attendees voted on the company they believed could benefit the most from the money. CushCore manufactures an Inner-Tire Suspension System for mountain bikes.

Winner of a Business Oregon Award:

  • PubTalk semi-finalist Cascade Wellness Technologies (Sunriver, Ore.) was awarded $100,000. Cascade Wellness Technologies produces an Automated Thermal Contrast device to non-evasively increase blood flow to the body.

A record ten companies received funding and the conference’s big winner was Hubb, walking away with $2,515,000.

“The goal of the Bend Venture Conference is to bring together investors and investable companies in the hopes that through the process some magic will occur and companies will get discovered and funded,” said Brian Vierra, Venture Catalyst for EDCO. “This year, due to a high level of collaboration between both angel and venture funds, institutions and the State itself, we succeeded to a level the conference hasn’t seen before. This has resulted in a new record of almost $4 million for investment deployed through an angel conference in the northwest.”

About the Bend Venture Conference
The Bend Venture Conference (BVC), hosted by Economic Development for Central Oregon, is the largest angel conference in the Pacific Northwest. This year, the conference is divided into three competition categories that consist of Social Impact, Early Stage and Growth Stage companies vying for investment and cash prizes. In 2015, more than 465 attendees, 50 prominent investors and 65 companies joined us for a celebration of entrepreneurship and close to $1 million was awarded to multiple winners. For more information, visit

About Economic Development for Central Oregon

Celebrating its 35th year, 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


Press Contact

Brian Vierra

Venture Catalyst Manager


(541) 388.3236 x5

MOVE: Q&A with Matt Foster, Owner, Maverick Leather Company

BEND, Ore. – September 6th, 2016 – While showing us a 50-year-old milling drum used to soften leather, Matt Foster, Owner of Maverick Leather Company, talked to EDCO about the successful relocation of his business, his family and his entire team from Petaluma, California to Central Oregon over the summer.

EDCO: Tell us about Maverick Leather Company.

MF: Maverick Leather Company became a reality in June 2006. Although we’re still a relatively new company, I’ve been in the “leather world” for over 30 years. Maverick Leather prides itself on our ability to attain hard to find leathers and job lots. We offer a versatile selection from Horween to Latigo & Bridle to Upholstery Leather and everything in between. At Maverick Leather, customer service is our #1 priority and we enjoy building a personal relationship with each customer. Everybody has a story to tell.

EDCO: Why did you decide to relocate to Central Oregon?

MF: It was a lifestyle and personal decision. My son, James, had been here attending flight school for about a year. We came for a visit and there was an instant connection with the area. Then, we did some research and realized there weren’t any other companies in Central Oregon doing what we do. Since we can run this business anywhere, we thought “Why not here?” But, I was still a bit hesitant to take the leaf of faith and it was my daughter, Erin, who was the one to convince me to move the business, the family and all our employees. She is responsible for reigniting my passion. She is the “glue” and also an owner. Without her, we would not be in Bend.

EDCO: Any advice for companies moving to the area?

MF: Call EDCO! They helped us with contacts for accounting, legal advice, banking, technology, and commercial brokers, who found us the perfect warehouse space. We couldn’t have done this without them.

EDCO: Where do you see Maverick Leather five years down the road?

MF: With the “craft movement” in this country really taking off, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing. There’s a real demand for our leather. We have customers, large and small, from all over the country buying it to make saddles, shoes, boots, wallets, purses, portfolios, belts, and many other things. Combine this with our knowledge and exceptional customer service and we’ve carved out a great niche. There may be an opportunity to expand our cutting operation and cut custom shapes for our customers, but we’ll see what happens down the road.

EDCO: Anything else you’d like the community to know about Maverick Leather?

MF: Yes, we want the community to know that we’re happy to be here! And, if you’re interested in leather, our doors are always open. Our staff is amazing and no job is too big or too small for us.


We’ll also be having a Ribbon Cutting and Open House on Thursday, November 5, from 3-7 p.m. to celebrate. We hope people will stop by and say hello!

(EDCO note: Maverick Leather is located at 63055 Corporate Place, Space #6. The event is free and open to the public. For more information about Maverick Leather, visit their website.)

GROW: Q&A with Eric Power, Owner, Bend Velo/J. Livingston Bikes

BEND, Ore. – August 29th, 2016 – With a motto like “Ride upright, not uptight” and a vision to “make the world a better place, one bicycle at a time,” it’s no wonder J. Livingston Bikes are making a name for themselves. From his shop in Bend’s Makers District, Eric Power talks to EDCO about the brand’s beautifully repurposed commuter bikes.

EDCO: What’s the story behind J. Livingston Bikes?

The company is named for my good friend John Livingston. John was the first person I met during my first visit to Bend in 2002. After we moved to Bend, John and I became great friends, and while our love of cycling was our bond, our choice of bikes was very different. John’s bikes were a mishmash of parts he’d acquired from who knows where. Mine were expensive racing bikes. One day on a cruise around town, John challenged me to explain what made my fancy bike any better than the bike he’d cobbled together from a 1980s steel mountain-bike frame. As I attempted to formulate my argument, I realized I had no case. And so, what started as a friendly argument ended with an idea for a new bike brand.

Fast forward to today and we’ve built over 1,000 J. Livingston Bikes from our shop, Bend Velo. We’ve stayed true to our roots and continue to repurpose old steel bikes into stylish, comfortable, affordable, commuter town bikes.

John Livingston and Eric Power

EDCO: Tell us more about the mission of J. Livingston.

EP: J. Livingston has a social mission to get more people out of their cars and onto bikes. By creating practical bikes for real world use, we can solve some of our country’s issues—health issues, parking, congestion, and environmental issues.

EDCO: Why Bend?

EP: We chose Bend to live and then we found a way to make a living. Not the other way around. We saw a need for a commuter-style bike shop here and opened Bend Velo in 2009. We’re all about practical cycling, not racing, which is different than most of the shops in town.

EDCO: What is your background?

EP: I was a junior bike racer for many years. Then, when I went to college, I got a degree in accounting and business management, followed by a Master’s in sports management. So, I guess J. Livingston is the intersection of my passion and my education.

EDCO: What local resources have helped your business?

EP: We use locally sourced parts and labor as much as possible – we powder coat our bikes locally, manufacture parts and decals here and use a local welder (who’s now in-house). We’re all about helping other businesses. We’ve created an ecosystem.

Bend is also great for networking and we’ve done a lot of that, too. Several local businesses have our bikes on display in their stores, including Backporch Coffee, North Soles and Cascade Cottons.

EDCO: Where do you see J. Livingston in 3-5 years?

EP: We’ve seen a steady increase in sales year over year (about 7-10% every year). But, we mainly sell our bikes to locals and just a small number go to tourists from places like Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Phoenix. There’s definitely a market for what we do, so we’re going to explore pop-up stores or sprinter vans in those larger metros.

We’d also like to expand our corporate bike program. I don’t think many people know that we build custom, logoed, branded bikes for businesses. We’ve done them for the U.S. Forest Service, OSU-Cascades, Commute Options, and Wall Street Suites, to name a few. As Bend gets busier, more businesses will want to find ways for their employees to commute on bikes.


For more information about J. Livingston Bikes, visit

GROW: Q&A with Paul Filipowicz, Owner, Poltex

BEND, Ore. – June 21st, 2016 – For Paul Filipowicz, owner of Redmond-based Poltex, it all started with glitter-glue and a sketch of the Pink Panther. When Paul’s then-girlfriend (now wife and business partner) created the Pink Panther masterpiece (pictured), he wanted to build a special display case for it. He sketched the design, bought some materials and handcrafted the case in his garage. It didn’t take long for friends and co-workers to notice and soon he began making customized pieces. Fifteen years later, Poltex is thriving. EDCO recently sat down with Paul to learn more about the world of plastic fabrication.


The masterpiece that started it all.

EDCO: How did Poltex get started?

PF: While I was working for Kaiser-Permanente I felt like I needed three hands to get everything done. I’ve always been a very organized person who believes that “there’s a place for everything and everything in its place,” so I began to build plastic containers, shelves and stands for work. I realized there was a real need for these types of products, so I taught myself some basic CAD skills and launched Poltex out of my garage.

EDCO: Tell us more about the types of products you create.

PF: We specialize in plastic fabrication products for organization and storage purposes. Most of our clients are hospitals, labs and clinics. Locally, we’ve done work for Ida’s Cupcakes and Breedlove. We also have a big client in Canada called the Key Cafe.


Custom cupcake tower for Ida’s Cupcakes

We have two product streams – custom pieces and standard pieces. Basically, every product we make starts as a custom piece. We save all of our designs and if something can be used by multiple clients then it becomes part of our standard product line. We start with a CAD program and design a picture of the product. We then send that to the client to verify that the piece meets all their needs. Once the design is approved, we input it into a CAM program, which creates the 3D model that is sent to our CNC machine. This machine cuts the product so we can build it and ultimately, deliver it to our client.


The CNC machine in action

EDCO: Why did you choose Redmond to grow Poltex?

PF: Redmond is awesome. The business community is really tight knit and resources like REDI (Redmond Economic Development Inc.) are less taxed than other places. The rental rates are also really good here. We found our current space two and a half years ago and we’ve been really happy with it.

EDCO: How has EDCO impacted your business?

PF: Early on, we were trying to get our products into St. Charles. I had cold called them, but was having a hard time getting my foot in the door. In 2014, Jon Stark at REDI asked us to participate in a “Made in Redmond” tour. We agreed and there happened to be a guy from St. Charles on the tour. It was right around the time they were opening their Prineville location and they needed products like ours. I came in on a tight timeline and created products that were better, cheaper and faster than what they had.

EDCO has also helped us find business incentives through the Enterprise Zone. Jon has been a constant and available resource since day one.

EDCO: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

PF: In the near future, we need to increase our online presence and grow our non-distributor business through channels like Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. We have a consultant coming in to help with our website and online integration, which will improve our credibility and visibility.

We also just got a VA government contract that gives us the ability to market and sell to VA hospitals. Nobody else is currently creating custom plastic fabrication products of this quality. There’s a lot of potential and a lot of untapped markets that we can pursue.

For more information about how EDCO can help grow your business in Central Oregon, please call (541) 388-3236.

MOVE: Q&A with Matt Gilman, Founder, Chivaz Wear

BEND, Ore. – January 1, 2016 – A quick sit down chat with Matt Gilman, founder of Chivaz (chee-vaz) Wear, led us to discover why he’s passionate about socks, why he left the rat race of Sunnyvale, CA, for the “views-n-brews” community of Redmond, OR, and why it’s better to be a goat than a sheep.

1) Why socks?

I’ve always loved socks and always worn crazy styles. I used to raid my dad’s closet and try on his tall, argyle socks. It’s an important part of my wardrobe. But, I was buying socks that just didn’t do it for me and I couldn’t find any good quality, comfortable socks that just felt good when I put them on. The idea for Chivaz came to me in 2006, but I didn’t start making them until 2012. I was working 10-12 hour days in the Bay Area and just didn’t have anything left for Chivaz.

2) Why Chivaz? What does it mean?

The long answer is “Chivaz” is the Spanish word for goats and goats are sure footed, have great balance and can climb almost anything. Goats are strong willed. Goats are diverse (they come in all shapes, sizes, horns/no horns). Goats adapt incredibly well to their surroundings. Goats never lose their personality. Goats refuse to be contained. Goats get along well with people and other animals. So, Chivaz are a reminder that you are your best self when you aren’t afraid to stand tall and stand out. We want the brand to encourage people to express their “inner-goat” to the world and do something they love to do.

I recently wrote a blog called “Are you a goat or a sheep? And other things to ponder as you build an authentic brand.” The basic message is be a goat, not a sheep. Show up and be yourself, don’t follow the herd. That’s what we’re doing with Chivaz.

3) Why did you decide to relocate to Redmond?

Well, my wife and I were living in the Bay Area, working long days in the tech industry and we started feeling out of touch with who we really were. We both grew up in smaller towns and knew we wanted to get back to that kind of lifestyle. We came to look at a house in Redmond one weekend and it just felt right. It felt like home. Four weeks later, we were here.

We love that Redmond has a lot of small town charm, plenty of space to grow, really nice people that look you in the eye, and a super supportive community that wants to see you succeed. The proximity of Bend to Redmond is also a huge plus because you get the best of both worlds – the value and community of a small town and the nearby location of a destination city with a large tourist population who will (hopefully!) see my socks in the local shops.

I personally also love being outdoors and the multitude of different opportunities that Redmond has to offer is just awesome.

4) How has EDCO helped you get your business established in Central Oregon?

The people of EDCO and their immediate inclusion of me as an outsider has been awesome. I still am trying to figure out why people are being so nice and supportive. Jon Stark (REDI/EDCO) and Brian Vierra (EDCO) have both been instrumental in not only buying Chivaz socks, but also in introducing me around town to different people that can help a person like me.

5) Where do you see Chivaz five years down the road?

In five years, I see Chivaz as the first name that comes to mind when you think of Central Oregon and socks. I really feel like Chivaz has found its home forever here. I don’t have aspirations to be huge in retail across the nation, but I do want to blanket the local market with Chivaz. I also plan on putting a lot of effort into growing the eCommerce side of the business, which is really where I see the most potential. Ideally, just like people think of Hydro Flask, Humm Kombucha, BlackStrap, SnoPlanks, RuffWear, and DrinkTanks (among dozens of others) as leaders in their product categories that are from Central Oregon, I’d love for Chivaz to represent in the sock category.

6) Any advice for companies moving to the area?

Get involved. It’s a small community of entrepreneurs and businesses. People will meet with you and return emails, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Also, make sure that you have the right winter gear.

For more information or to buy your very own pair of Chivaz (you’ll thank us later!), visit their website at

Q&A with Joe Barker, General Manager & Brew Master, Ochoco Brewing Company

BEND, Ore. – January 3, 2016 – Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) recently sat down with Ochoco Brewing Company General Manger, Joe Barker, and his partner, Uriah Dombrowski, to catch up on where the brewery has been, where it is now, and where it is going in the future. Here’s what’s hoppin’.

EDCO: Tell us about Ochoco Brewing Company.

JB: I opened Ochoco Brewing Company (then called Solstice Brewing Company) back in 2011. I had been a home brewer in Portland before that and I really enjoyed making good quality, tasty beers. At first Solstice was just a brewpub, but by the end of 2012, we were fully operational and making all of our own beers.

EDCO: What made you choose Prineville?

JB: I grew up in northeast Oregon in a small town called Summerville, which is near La Grande. When I came to Prineville for the first time, it really reminded me of Summerville. It had that small town feel where you’re always running into people you know and everybody says hi to each other at the grocery store. At about the same time, we were looking to move out of Portland. Prineville was attractive because it was very affordable and it also needed a brewpub.

EDCO: Tell us about your beers and your menu.

JB: We make good quality beer from solid recipes that appeal to a broad spectrum of people. Prineville is newer to the craft beer scene, so we stick to what people like and are familiar with. On average, we brew about 16 different beers at a time and 11 of those are on tap at the new brewpub. The most popular beers are Double Dam IPA and C.W. Schnocker.

I would describe our menu as high quality pub food. Our Executive Chef, Jeff Batty, has been with us for three years and we’re always growing and tailoring the menu. Our kitchen uses as many fresh, local foods as possible and we support businesses like Prineville Beef Company, Dancing Cow Farm, Timber Creek Farms, Flying Pig Hops, and Big Ed’s Bakery. We’re mostly known for our “hand-patted” burgers and we get a lot of positive feedback about our food.

People also come for the live entertainment. Tuesday is open mic night and Wednesday is a blue grass/country jam session.

EDCO:  What’s your favorite thing on the menu?

JB: I could eat the Irish Smothered Nacho Fries and Steins Pillar burger every day, but then there would be two of me (laughs).

UD: The Cod Fish and Chips are really good.

EDCO: Where do you see Ochoco Brewing 3-5 years down the road?

JB: With the addition of Uriah and Brie Dombrowski as partners, we have more bandwidth, so big plans are in the works. We just finished moving the brewpub to a new location, which is a block north of our old spot. In the short term, we want to get the new brewpub operating at capacity and make it the “go-to” spot in Prineville. We’re also in the process of moving production to a new brewery space that’s bigger and has quadruple the capacity. At some point, we’d like to hire a head brewer and a brewer’s apprentice.

Right now, our main limitation is production. We need to have the ability to produce vast quantities of beer, so it can be bottled or canned and distributed outside of Central Oregon. We’d like to see Ochoco sold statewide and in surrounding areas like Washington and California.

EDCO: How has EDCO helped your business grow?

JB: EDCO has been a great resource for doing business in Prineville. They’ve helped us better understand tax incentives, permitting, human resources, liquor licensing, and the Enterprise Zone.

EDCO: Anything else we should know about Ochoco Brewing Company?

UD: Yes, I’d like to add that Joe really knows what he’s doing when it comes to making good beer. I knew that after one sip of his Winter Schnocker.

(EDCO note: Ochoco Brewing Company’s new brewpub is located at 380 N. Main St. in Prineville. They are open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and breakfast Friday-Sunday. For more information, visit their website.)

Q&A with Mike Williamson, General Manager, Paladin Data Corporation

BEND, Ore. – September 9th, 2015 – Mike Williamson, General Manager of Paladin Data Corporation, shrugs his shoulders when asked how Paladin will celebrate 35 years of business. “We might have to find a great pizza recipe and fire up that pizza oven in the break room.” No small accomplishment, Paladin has been getting things right for many years and continues to grow its business through a keen focus on customer service.

EDCO: What does Paladin do?

MW: Paladin specializes in point of sale (POS) software for hardware stores, lumber yards, retail stores, and pharmacies. Our straightforward POS system helps these types of businesses manage their inventory, cost and margins, while also saving them a lot of time.

EDCO: You’re celebrating your 35th Anniversary this year. Congratulations! How have things changed over the years and what has Paladin done to adapt?

MW: Prior to 1980 when Paladin was founded, Central Oregon was all about lumber. When the recession hit, the logging industry was hit hard and the town was basically being boarded up. We had no other industries here.

About that same time, the modern PC was being invented and company founder, Dan Nesmith, saw an opportunity to create software programs utilizing that new technology. Our POS software allowed businesses to manage a lot of physical inventory and we’ve been continuing innovation ever since. We’re currently working on a suite of mobile applications that will enable our customers to access our software from anywhere on their mobile devices.

EDCO: How does Paladin differentiate itself from its competition?

MW: It’s all about our people. We believe that customer service is the best way to differentiate yourself from your competition and to do that well, you need great people. We’ve been lucky in that regard. We’ve found amazing people through referrals and word-of-mouth, so we tend to hire within families and friend groups. In fact, we’ve got a few married couples that work here.

Paladin also does a great job of adopting the culture of each vertical we work with. Whether it’s a hardware store or a pharmacy, each one has its own set of products, terminologies, and challenges. We make a huge effort to understand each culture as well as their business needs.

EDCO: How has EDCO helped your company grow?

MW: EDCO helped us secure funds through the Deschutes County Economic Development program and helped us locate and secure our new facility. The money we received helped drive some of our recent business decisions to relocate and hire more people. We moved from 12,000 sf at the Bend airport to our current 19,000 sf “campus” on Awbrey Butte. And, we now have 44 employees.

EDCO: Any advice for start-ups hoping to be as successful as Paladin?

MW: Work hard, stay focused, hire good people, and continue to find ways to add value for your customers.