Author Archives: Heidi Hausner

Idaho First Bank: Making Strides in Oregon

Bend, Ore. (March 14, 2022) – Known for its People First. Community First. motto, Idaho First Bank (IFB) is a full-service state-chartered community bank that was established in 2005 and is headquartered in McCall, Idaho.  It has quickly grown to six branches in Idaho and one loan production office in Bend, which opened in late 2020 and marked its first Oregon location. Considered a small-medium community bank, IFB holds around $500 million in assets and employs about 80 people.

We caught up with Zak Sundsten, VP, Commercial Relationship Manager for Idaho First Bank and EDCO Board Member to learn more about the local loan production office in Bend.

EDCO: Tell us more about Idaho First Bank and the Bend office.

Zak: Our focus and philosophy are to help our people and communities with various business and commercial real estate loans and banking resources. As a small bank, we’re proud to have the flexibility to be creative when it makes sense. Our Bend office serves primarily the Central Oregon area, but with the ability to serve all of Oregon. Currently, we have a team of five operating in Bend.

EDCO: Who can you help?

Zak: Our primary focus is on the small to medium size businesses in the Central Oregon area. We can be flexible on making projects work, but our perfect customer would be an established business that’s looking to grow, purchase equipment, and/or buy their own property. Most of our loans are for commercial real estate, both owner-occupied and investment properties. We’ve also provided loans to businesses to purchase equipment as well as credit lines for working capital.

EDCO: What attracted Idaho First Bank to Central Oregon?

Zak: Two things attracted us to Central Oregon.  The first, IFB wanted to be in Oregon, and Bend represented a place with abundant opportunities and demand while providing our employees with a beautiful place to live and work. Secondly, the dedicated team that was ready to get Oregon operations off the ground was already in Bend and had a well-established network.

EDCO: What makes Idaho First Bank unique?

Zak: We know a lot of banks look and act very similar. Where banks can be different is their approach to solving an issue, or getting a transaction done. The way a loan is reviewed and approved can vary from bank to bank. Some banks are willing to be flexible and look at mitigating factors to make a deal work, and some aren’t. We believe we fit in the former category by being flexible with a can-do attitude.

EDCO: Any recent news you’d like to share?

Zak: You can follow all the latest and greatest news about Idaho First Bank on our news page. We are targeting June 1, 2022, to transition to a full-service branch and add at least one additional staff member.

EDCO: How do you support EDCO and why?

Zak: We love EDCO and want to continue supporting the organization’s efforts through membership, event attendance, and Board representation. We enjoy attending all the events as they provide great value.  As an EDCO Board Member, we find many synergies in our combined work as EDCO provides Central Oregon new and existing businesses help to succeed. Further, we stand together in the focus to bring new industries to Central Oregon.

Contact Information for Bend Office:

Bend, Oregon (Loan Production Office)
1030 N.W. Bond Street #203
Bend, OR 97703
Phone: 541-948-8680
Lobby Hours: Mon-Fri, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm



START: Q&A with Tastefully Bend

Bend, Ore., November 30, 2021: Tastefully Bend is a locally owned business based in Bend, Oregon, creating handcrafted and locally made biscotti unique in both texture and flavor. Their goal is to expand the biscotti market by offering a soft biscotti that can be enjoyed on its own or, for the traditional biscotti experience, dipped into someone’s favorite beverage.

We sat down with Colleen Park, Owner/Baker, to learn more about her biscotti business.

EDCO: Tell us more about Tastefully Bend.

Colleen: Tastefully Bend was officially founded in January of 2021 with the first product, Cinnamon Sugar & Pecan Biscotti, launched in April. Since then we’ve added Pumpkin Spice Biscotti in September and Hazelnut & Chocolate Biscotti with Toffee Bits in November. Peppermint Crunch is scheduled to be released this December. We have 3 employees and anticipate doubling in size by the end of Q2 2022.

The Tastefully Bend growth outside of the local area has been truly exceptional. Within 3 months of launching our first product, we were selling throughout Oregon. We will continue to deepen our business relationships in Oregon before expanding into other states. My experience tells me that to build a solid distribution channel, one must manage growth and client expectations. We’re doing that with a very targeted business development strategy coupled and a realistic product development strategy.

EDCO: Tell us about your product line. What is in the pipeline?

Colleen: The biscotti market has not changed in many years. We have created a soft biscotti that is like no other! It’s soft, yet holds up beautifully when dipped in your favorite beverage! Kids love it, too! They love dipping the Cinnamon Sugar & Pecan Biscotti in milk, hot chocolate, or having fun by crushing it up and sprinkling it over ice cream! Adults also have had fun dipping theirs in champagne, whiskey, or simply enjoying on its own. Traditional hard biscotti lovers are delighted in the new experience of a soft, yet flavorful biscotti that holds up when dipped in their coffee.

We will be offering both year-round and seasonal biscotti. The current year-round flavors are Cinnamon Sugar & Pecan, Hazelnut & Chocolate with Toffee Bits and Lemon & Lavender coming in Q1 2022. Our current seasonal biscotti are Pumpkin Spice (available through November) and Peppermint Crunch which will be released in December and available through February (unless sales tell us otherwise!) I create all of our flavors with many of my ideas coming from friends and family requests to my own creative ideas.

EDCO: Where can we find your product?

Colleen: We initially targeted specialty grocers, like Market of Choice, and hotels like the new Westin across from Pioneer Park and The Pine Ridge Inn off Century Drive. Both vertical markets have been fantastic for our business growth. Soon we expanded to the transportation market by working first with the Redmond airport and then the Eugene airport. Our market penetration strategy targets our beloved tourists while at the same time serving our local community demand.

We also participate in our local farmers’ markets and pop-up events. This summer we had fun working at Bend’s NWX Farmers Market and also at Redmond’s General Duffy’s Waterhole Farmers Market where we first learned how to sell at an open-air market. We had a lot of fun learning and spending part of our summer in Redmond.

Our next big jump is into the online e-commerce arena. We are working through that project now and hope to be offering online sales by December. Our products make excellent corporate and hostess gifts and they ship very well.

EDCO: Why operate a business in Central Oregon?

Colleen: I grew up in Portland, Oregon, and relocated outside of the state for the past 30 years. When I decided to return home to Oregon in 2017, I revisited Portland several times and after 4 trips to Bend, I felt it offered all the elements I needed to thrive. It offers an unparalleled outdoor enthusiast lifestyle and for me, it’s skiing and then a little bit more skiing with hiking in the off-season. I also had family here so it just felt like the place where I could spend the next 30 years thriving and living a full and rewarding life. Giving myself a balanced work and home life was imperative to me if I was going to launch my own company. I’d been a VP in the technology world for years and I was simply wanting more to my life; traveling 80% was great for my career but I was not thriving.

Central Oregon gave me the physical and spiritual balance I needed to truly be happy and thrive. The business community in Central Oregon was so receptive to a new business, and to a new product, that Tastefully Bend was launched and has been successful ever since.

EDCO:  Do you have a story of success and/or challenge you’d like to share about your business and how you responded?

Colleen: Frankly creating and starting my business during a pandemic in Central Oregon has been an amazing experience! From our local vendors to our lovely clients, we continue to thrive and have been able to expand our product reach throughout Oregon. Sure we’ve been challenged with hiring more folks to help us create our product just like other small businesses across our country, but we are successful regardless of this challenge. I simply don’t dwell on the negative but enhance the positive of what we do have and continue to work on expanding as best we can with the current employment conditions. Our triumphs come from the inherent nature of the supportive business community in Central Oregon and bringing a sweet treat to a variety of people; from those that live here to our beloved tourists!

EDCO: What does your future look like?

Colleen: Tastefully Bend’s 2022 growth plan is to deepen our vertical markets throughout the western states. We also have some unique product plans that will expand our B2C reach beyond the current product line. For now, we are very happy working out of PREP Chef’s Kitchen, however, over the next few years, we plan on owning our own facility and employing upwards of 10 full-time people.

EDCO: Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Colleen: I actually had a traveling nurse from Montana email me saying she stayed at a local hotel which is one of our clients, LOGE Camps, and purchased a package of the Cinnamon Sugar & Pecan in their marketplace coffee area. She asked if we’d ship her a dozen packages for Christmas gifts! Wow…that warmed my heart to know she chose Tastefully Bend’s biscotti when there are so many other wonderful items created here that she could have chosen. I felt like my personal mantra of “thriving” was truly manifesting and giving others joy!

EDCO: How do you support EDCO and why?

Colleen: Tastefully Bend is a new member of EDCO! We joined because of the dynamic reach EDCO has both within our local Bend business community and throughout the region. Tastefully Bend’s vision is to go beyond Oregon’s borders. We wanted to work closely with an organization, such as EDCO, that truly supports Central Oregon businesses; one that also provides us community networking opportunities to help us grow and thrive.

Washington Trust Bank: New to Central Oregon, Not New to Banking

Washington Trust Bank Logo

Bend, Ore., October 14, 2021: EDCO welcomes Washington Trust Bank to Central Oregon. Washington Trust Bank is the largest privately held, full-service commercial bank in the Northwest, serving markets in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. As suggested in their slogan, New to Central Oregon, Not New to Banking, they have been in business since 1902 and remain focused their key values of exceptional service and dedication to the communities they serve.

We sat down with Cory Allen, Senior Vice President – Team Leader Central Oregon, to learn more about Washington Trust Bank, the local team, how they can help businesses and more.

EDCO: Tell us about Washington Trust Bank’s Central Oregon Team

Cory Allen: We have a team of five banking professionals that bring a combined 75 years of experience servicing Central Oregon communities. We’re aiming to increase our team to 12 members, upon moving into our new office location at 1203 NE 3rd street.

EDCO: How can you help businesses and who is your ideal client?

Cory Allen: We can help anyone. No matter the size, complexity of their financial situation, or industry, we are a highly experienced group of banking and financial professionals that thrive by creating unique, customized solutions to meet each of our clients’ individual needs. As an example, Washington Trust has been an exceptional provider of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans throughout the Pacific Northwest, funding over 8,000 loans to local small businesses in need across the region. We’re dedicated to the health and success of the communities we have the privilege of doing business in, and we’re excited to offer our services to Central Oregon.

EDCO: What attracted Washington Trust to Central Oregon and what do you bring to the region?

Cory Allen: We were attracted to Central Oregon for its unique mixture of exceptional growth in a variety of sectors including healthcare, manufacturing, and technology, as well as, the quality of life the region offers.

We offer our full breadth of banking services to the Central Oregon community with our team of experienced bankers. Our goal is to be the premier provider of commercial, mortgage, private and retail banking serving the Central Oregon community.

EDCO: What makes Washington Trust unique?

Cory Allen: At Washington Trust, we pride ourselves on going above and beyond to provide exceptional financial services to our customers. We’re not your typical bank, we take the time to truly understand our customer and their businesses and create customized financial solutions for them. None of our customers are put in a box or pre-set template, we understand everyone’s financial situation and business is different and requires tailored solutions. We’re from the Pacific Northwest and our Central Oregon team is made of exceptional professionals.  We are so proud to work in Central Oregon and we’re dedicated to the success of our clients.

EDCO: Any recent news you’d like us to link to?

Cory Allen: For more information on our PPP lending efforts, I’d encourage businesses to read a Q&A interview of our president, Jack Heath with the Associated Press to learn more about what it means to us as well as Jack’s article in the Spokane Journal of Business to hear about his outlook on our economy.

EDCO: How do you support EDCO and why?

Cory Allen: We’re supporting EDCO because we believe that the success of our economy is determined by the health of our local small businesses. We’re proud to partner with EDCO to help provide the knowledge, resources and counsel necessary to help local businesses chart the best path forward for their future.

Mueggenburg Farms: A North America Staple in the Botanical Market

Bend, Ore., August 3, 2021 – Located in Culver, Oregon, Mueggenburg Farms was established as the North American branch of the Mueggenburg Group, with the purpose of importing and distributing the vast assortment of European herbs and botanical ingredients produced overseas by the Mueggenburg members. With increased customer demand for domestic production and products, Mueggenburg Farms has become a staple in the North American market with in-house processing, warehousing and both direct domestic and international sourcing.

We chatted with Nils Mueggenburg to learn more about the Central Oregon operations.

EDCO: Tell us more about Mueggenburg Farms.

Nils: Mueggenburg Farms is a family-owned and operated supplier and manufacturer of dried botanical and herbal ingredients in Central Oregon that started in 2015. Our mission is to provide high-quality organic and conventional botanicals for the tea, spice, nutraceutical, and spirits industries. With 10 employees, we annually process and distribute over 750,000 pounds of herbs and spices such as echinacea, slippery elm bark, valerian, turmeric, peppermint, pau d’arco, and juniper berries. These herbs and spices can be anything from roots, barks, leaves, berries, flowers, to gums. We regularly import from Europe, Asia, and South America, while also arranging wild-crafting operations in the Cascades and through our partner companies in Appalachia.

EDCO: Tell us about your transition from farming to manufacturing and why?

Nils: When Mueggenburg Farms was established in 2015, the main operations were farming and warehousing. Over the years, increased demand for specialized cuts and powders pushed us to transition our facility from a farming operation to a modern food-grade manufacturing facility. This transition required some significant investment in both infrastructure and staff training to meet and exceed regulatory, certification body and customer expectations. The improvements and renovations also allow us to scale our volumes without risking cross-contamination during the milling or cutting processes. We’re also working on doing an in-house pasteurization process, which will enable us to reduce microbiological contamination, ready-to-eat food-grade products, all right here on our farm. There were a lot of bumps in the road, but we are really proud of what we’ve accomplished together and what we will continue to accomplish in the future.

With that said, we haven’t given up on farming completely! We just started a cultivation project of goldenseal root here in Central Oregon. Goldenseal is an endangered plant that requires a special permit to export, which can only be obtained through proof of cultivation. This is a very exciting project for us as we continue to push for sustainable harvesting and production practices to ensure supply for the future.

EDCO: Who is your ideal customer?

Nils: Our customers range from small specialty spice shops to multinational food and dietary supplement manufacturers. Whether you are needing 25 pounds or a full container load, we can help. We can ship almost anywhere in the world, either by full container, by the pallet or through a regular ground carrier like UPS or FedEx. Being a small business, we aim to be flexible as we understand each of our clients has their own unique needs.

EDCO: Why operate a business in Central Oregon?

NIls: Central Oregon is great for so many reasons! By nature, it is a very business-friendly environment, with great supporting associations like EDCO that go above and beyond to help and connect CO businesses. We feel this greatly affects the overall business culture in Central Oregon, where other private businesses in the area we’ve worked with have been really kind to us and look to help where they can beyond the regular scope of our transaction. Also, the strong agriculture community also provides a great environment for farming and manufacturing spices, while the dry climate allows for ideal warehousing conditions of dried herbs. Being close to the ports in Portland, Seattle, and Oakland allow for cost-effective transport when importing and exporting. And, of course, Central Oregon is just a great place to live.

EDCO: What makes Mueggenburg Farms unique?

NIls: We are a 4th generation family-owned and operated business with our roots in Northern Germany. We offer over 400 different botanicals, herbs, and spices, and even if we don’t have the material available in-stock, there is a good chance we can find it. Our vast network of growers around the world, together with over 250,000 sq ft of warehousing space between our US and German facilities allow for a year-round supply of all kinds of herbs and spices. Monthly imports from Europe and Asia also allow for products to be available in a timely fashion at our facility in Culver. We’ve also recently started exploring the realm of contract packaging – packaging finished stand-up pouches with consumer-ready herbs, spice and loose-leaf teas.

EDCO: Any recent news you’d like us to share?

Nils: We just launched a new website. Check it out!

Skanska: Building What Matters in Central Oregon and Beyond

Bend, Ore., August 3, 2021 – To many, when they think of Skanska they think of a global construction company. However, when it comes to Central Oregon, they are very much a local company with a local team and strong local partnerships that span over 25 years. In fact, many of the buildings we enter or drive by daily may just be a Skanska project.

We sat down with Robert “Bob” Moro, Skanska Project Executive and current EDCO Board Member, to learn more about Skanska including the company’s culture and its local presence here in Central Oregon.

EDCO: Tell us more about Skanska.

Bob Moro: Skanska’s history as a construction company dates all the way back to 1887 but we have been an Oregon builder since 1972, and have operated locally in Central Oregon since 1995. For over 25 years, we’ve partnered with public and private Central Oregon clients to deliver projects that enhance the community. Our local team is passionate about providing a positive impact on the place they call home. We are also proud of the relationships we have cultivated with local subcontractors, vendors, and suppliers over the years—and with whom we continue to partner on a range of successful projects. It’s in our nature to foster a collaborative environment to bring exciting projects to life from preconstruction services through construction and closeout.

EDCO: How would you describe your mission and purpose?

Bob Moro: Our work makes a clear contribution to society and the environment around us. Whether we are building schools to provide inspiring spaces for learning, roads to connect communities or hospitals to care for patients, it all contributes to our purpose—we build what matters.

EDCO: Tell more about your local Central Oregon presence.

Bob Moro: Skanska has completed more than 100 projects in Central Oregon over the last 25 years. Today, we have 10 employees living in the Central Oregon community. We have been a member of several organizations for several years including EDCO, Bend Chamber, Redmond Chamber and Madras Chamber.

EDCO: Who is your ideal client?

Bob Moro: We carefully select the projects we build and only take on work that allows us to provide clients our full attention, ample resources, and the highest level of service. Our projects range from small $10,000 interior renovations to large $500 million building projects. Market sectors where we have a strong presence include:

    • Aviation
    • Bio-pharma
    • Corporate and Commercial
    • Government
    • Healthcare
    • Higher Education
    • Hospitality
    • K-12 Education
    • Microelectronics
    • Manufacturing
    • Retail
    • Telecommunications
    • Transportation

EDCO: What else would you like to share with us Skanska and the Central Oregon team?

Bob Moro: As mentioned, our Central Oregon team takes a lot of pride in the community they live in.  We are active in the community and engaged in organizations such as; Habitat for Humanity, Heart of Oregon Corps, St. Charles Foundation, Central Oregon Builders Association, Central Oregon Safety and Health Conference, EDCO, Redmond Economic Development for Central Oregon, Mt. Bachelor Sports and Education Foundation.

EDCO: Do you mind taking a minute to tell our audience how do you support EDCO and why?

Bob Moro: Yes. Skanska has been a member of EDCO since 2010. I am honored to have been recently elected to the EDCO Board. I will enjoy the opportunity to contribute my knowledge of the construction industry and relationships with the many tradespeople and suppliers who serve the industry in Central Oregon. With the tremendous growth in Central Oregon, I will look to add valuable perspective and important up-to-date information on the construction market and labor trends to the benefit of EDCO. Most importantly I’m very eager to learn from the current Board and build long-lasting relationships that will bolster the continued growth of Central Oregon.

EDCO: Any other news you’d like to share.

Bob Moro: Yes!

  • We are excited to be moving into a new office in Bend located at 2275 NE Doctors Drive
  • I was recently elected to the EDCO Board of Directors
  • We broke ground on Jefferson County Health and Wellness project  in Madras
  • Our superintendent, Jacob Struck, was a recipient of the Accomplished Under 40 award
  • Jacob Struck was also elected to Jefferson County School District Board
  • We recently released Skanska’s Q2 2021 Construction Market Trends

Pinnacle Architecture: Celebrating 30 Years in Central Oregon

Pinnacle Architecture

Bend, Ore., December 16, 2020 – Celebrating 30 years in Central Oregon, Pinnacle Architecture’s mission is to design places that enhance lives and community. The firm provides planning, architecture and interior design services for education, multi-family housing, healthcare, senior living, and social service projects. It prides itself on its solid reputation for integrity, collaboration and socially responsible design.

We chatted with native Central Oregonian Peter Baer, Pinnacle Architecture President, to talk about how he got his start, the growth of the firm and the importance of community and community partners.

EDCO: Tell us more about Pinnacle Architecture and how you got your start. 

Peter: Pinnacle is celebrating our 30th year in business…during a pandemic! So, how did Pinnacle get started? I’m one of those rare Central Oregon locals born and raised in Bend, my family’s roots dating back to 1917. After getting my architecture degree at the University of Oregon in Eugene, I returned to Bend and began working in Real Estate Development. Unfortunately, in 1990 the US entered a recession, and Bend was hit hard. I was laid off, with a new mortgage and a baby on the way. After the layoff, I began working part-time at Central Oregon Community College as an instructor in design, drafting and construction. The work was good, but I wanted to make more of an impact and get back to design. After many conversations with my wife and mentors, I decided to take the risk and start my business, Pinnacle Architecture.

Just three months or so after taking the plunge, I hired my first employee and purchased a small office on 3rd Street. Through word of mouth and attending local events, we were designing everything from single-family homes to churches, bowling alleys, offices, and public buildings. I really found a sweet spot in Eastern Oregon. It started with responding to a request for a proposal for an affordable housing complex in Baker City, and we won. That led to city hall remodels, community centers, senior facilities, and community health buildings. My team and I really enjoyed the work’s social impact, and we began doing these types of public service projects all over Oregon. The mission of Enhancing Lives and Communities evolved and is a guiding belief today.

When I founded Pinnacle, it was always my desire for the company to continue long after I retire. In 2018, Briana Manfrass joined as an owner in the firm. She’s been part of the team since 2006 and a strong leader committed to fulfilling Pinnacle’s mission. We’ve got a great mix of talented employees in Bend, Portland and Vancouver, WA.

EDCO: Who is your ideal client? 

Peter: Pinnacle specializes in affordable housing, community healthcare, behavioral health, senior living, and public service (i.e., government buildings, community centers, etc.) projects. We do our best work when our client’s mission aligns with ours – enhancing lives and communities. For example, we’ve partnered with Housing Works for nearly 20 years and provided more than 500 affordable housing units to the tri-county area. Earlier this year, our team worked with Deschutes County to create the area’s first Stabilization Center to help those experiencing a mental crisis get help instead of being sent to jail or the emergency department.

EDCO: What are the benefits of having a business in Central Oregon?

Peter: Bend is my home. I grew up here and have extended family throughout Central Oregon. When starting the business 30 years ago, various resources helped me start and grow the firm, including COCC, Bend Chamber, Central Oregon Builders Association, and EDCO. Our location has allowed us to work across Oregon and, with easy flights out of Redmond, expanded into Arizona, California, the Carolinas, Massachusetts, and Montana.

EDCO: Do you have a recent development you’d like to share?

Peter: I’m pretty excited about a new project that recently broke ground in Redmond called Midtown Place on the corner of 5th Street & Greenwood. It’s a 47-unit workforce housing project developed by Housing Works as part of the City’s Mid-Town Plan. It took a lot of collaboration and community engagement to make it happen, and it’s going to transform that area and meet a housing need!

EDCO: How have you been affected by the pandemic and what have you learned?

Peter: We keep a balance of private and publicly funded work to respond to the economy’s ebbs and flows. When the economy is good we typically see more private work and during recessions we historically do more public work. The unforeseen impacts of COVID affected both client types equally, causing a significant shock to our business. $1m worth of projects went on hold in a few short weeks when COVID came to Oregon. Our healthcare, non-profit and senior living clients were focused on COVID response. We’re just starting to see an uptick in clients moving forward, including some essential healthcare projects using CARES funding.

This pandemic has reminded me of the importance of being flexible and always having a Plan B and Plan C. My team has done a fantastic job supporting me and the business – from adjusting to remote working and changing workload demands to thinking critically about how our designs must adapt. Luckily, we had remote workers before the pandemic, so our team was already comfortable using video conferencing. Now, most of our clients and project partners are too, although we miss the connections you can only make in person!

EDCO: Have you worked on any COVID 19 related initiatives to support neighbors and the community?

Peter: Helping communities is our mission. In March, our team organized a letter-writing campaign for Cascades of Bend Senior Living. On top of COVID, Cascades of Bend was undergoing a renovation we designed. Our team and their family and neighbors wrote over 100 letters to the staff and residents to bring a little joy during an uncertain time. Team members have volunteered at NeighborImpact packing food boxes, donated to Red Cross in a staff fundraising campaign, and are currently doing a food drive and warm weather clothing collection for the Shepherd’s House warming shelter. Both NeighborImpact and Shepherd’s House are clients.

EDCO: How do you support EDCO and why?

Peter: Pinnacle is an EDCO member because we feel their work is vital to shaping how our community grows. During the last recession, Central Oregon was hit hard. Because of EDCO’s focus on helping diversify our area’s industry, drawing a mix of business and workforce to Central Oregon, I feel our community will recover better.

Kernutt Stokes: Oregon CPA Firm Grows in Central Oregon While Celebrating 75 Years

Kernutt Stokes

Bend, Ore. – December 15, 2020: Celebrating 75 years, Kernutt Stokes is the sixth-largest CPA firm in Oregon with offices in Bend, Corvallis, Eugene, and Lake Oswego. Priding itself on the longevity of its team, the firm is comprised of 12 partners, 65+ CPAs, and 90+ staff.

Kernutt became a part of the Central Oregon community two years ago when it acquired Spectrum. Today, the Bend office has a team of six serving a variety of accounting and consulting services. We spoke with Amy Delaney, Kernutt Stoke’s Marketing & Business Development Manager, to learn more about the firm, the Bend office, the impact of the pandemic on them and their clients, how they’ve pivoted and more.

EDCO: Tell us more about Kernutt Stokes and the services you provide.

Amy: We provide strategic and personalized accounting, tax and consulting services to businesses in Oregon and strive to help our clients become more profitable, competitive, and successful. We do this by focusing on our core values: people come first, integrity is key, and excellence is expected.

EDCO: Who’s your ideal client?

We work with a range of businesses including local, multi-generational and family-owned, women-owned, private, individuals, and more with a variety of consulting and tax needs. We can also provide business services such as monthly accounting and fractional CFO services, retirement plan administration, and accounting software support. Additionally, we have a deep working knowledge of a number of industries, including construction, medical/dental, beverage, transportation, forest products, and real estate.

EDCO: Why did you choose to have a presence in Central Oregon?

Amy: Central Oregon is growing and the need for experienced assurance, tax and consulting expertise is growing along with the population and we can fill that need with a local, experienced team. As an employer, there are many benefits to having an office in Central Oregon – we can give our staff a variety of locations from which they can work (though most of us are working from home right now), it helps expand our hiring pool and provides additional visibility in this part of the state.

EDCO: How have you and your clients responded to the pandemic?

Amy: We have been affected by COVID 19 in a variety of ways.  We have learned how to adapt and be more flexible than ever! Our offices are closed to the public. We are fortunate in that we already had the technology in place for our staff to work remotely, either from home or from another KS office, so it makes working away from the office seamless. We emphasize the use of secure electronic data delivery both for receiving client data as well as sending client information and are less reliant on paper documents and snail-mail.

As a way to help support our employees, we implemented a technology reimbursement program to help them offset the cost to furnish a home office area while still maintaining their work set-up in our offices. Ultimately, our goal is for staff to return to the office when it is safe to do so in order to cultivate our culture and to strengthen relationships. While we have not experienced a decrease in productivity during this time, we know the importance of in-person relationships with both our staff and clients.

Our clients have been affected as well. Many have experienced a decrease in business while others are doing well. Our quality of service has stayed the same while our technical knowledge has expanded to include small business loan expertise and PPP loan expertise, which has been extremely important for businesses, whether they are already a client or not.

EDCO:  Have you worked on any COVID 19 related initiatives to support neighbors and the community?

Amy: Currently, we have been supporting our staff in a broader sense, including more flexible schedules to allow for homeschooling. As we continue to celebrate our 75th anniversary, we do have some exciting news that we’ll be announcing soon that relates to neighbor and community support. Stay tuned!

EDCO: How do you support EDCO and why?

Amy: We support EDCO by being a member and attending events and hope to expand our partnership as we continue to grow in Central Oregon. We feel EDCO is an important local organization that enables professionals to cultivate relationships and learn about local businesses.


Bend Sauce: A Local Family’s Journey into the Chipotle Sauce Industry

Bend, Ore., December 13, 2020 – Family owned and operated, Bend Sauce is a small batch chipotle sauce and seasonings company based in Bend. Handcrafted with organic Chipotle peppers from a family farm in New Mexico and Jacobsen Salt from the Oregon coast, this chipotle sauce delivers a unique balance of flavor and heat for the discerning chili-head.

Hear more about this startup’s journey into the chipotle sauce industry as Craig Rheinhart, Bend Sauce co-owner, shares their store, their community involvement and their connection to EDCO.

EDCO: Tell us your story and how you got your start.

Craig: Our story is simple. Bend Sauce was founded the summer of 2019 in Bend by Nikki, Craig, Talia, and Royce Reinhart out of a family passion and need for quality hot sauce. After years of eating around Bend on our weekend retreats, we grew tired of having to settle for typical watered-down hot sauce. With Chipotle flavor being our family favorite, on Saturday August 10, 2019, we endeavored to make our own. Pulling 20+ hot sauces out of the fridge, we stared at the ingredients in each bottle and immediately decided we would only use all-natural and organic ingredients. Starting with only the finest ingredients from Newport Avenue Market in Bend, Oregon (our first retailer as well) we set out to craft a super-premium organic Chipotle sauce with a thick, smooth seedless constancy that dazzles with every bite of any meal. Think about it.  We should chew our food and not our sauce, right?

In the following weeks, our sauce received universal acclaim from our friends, family and colleagues throughout the state, so we decided to take the next step and test our initial recipe at the Oregon State Food Innovation Center and found we were immediately shelf-stable. Launching our product during Winterfest in Bend in February 2020 we were delighted to deliver on our simple promise to bring only the best products to market. Bend Sauce does just that.

This summer we brought on a full-time high school student (and nationally recognized piano virtuoso) Maxwell Friedman as our first entrepreneurial intern to round out the Bend Sauce team as we know it today.

What started as a simple hot sauce has now been adopted by the chef and grill communities all over the world. We get notes all the time from chefs about how Bend Sauce has become a “secret ingredient” and posts from grill masters and pit bosses around the world with creative recipes using our products on social media almost daily.

EDCO: Where can we find your product today? 

Craig: Locally you can buy our products at Newport Avenue Market, Market of Choice, CE Lovejoys, West Coast Provisions, Primal Cuts Market, Savory Spice, Prineville Produce, Oliver Lemons, Black Butte Ranch Store, and Central Oregon Locavore.  We are online and in stores in California and throughout the Portland area.

EDCO: Why operate your business in Central Oregon?

Craig: Central Oregon is a unique place with friendly people and an abundance of expertise, including makers in the food-related business. The comradery here and throughout Oregon is exceptional and we couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

EDCO: What makes Bend Sauce unique?

Craig: Bend Sauce is unique in its quality of ingredients, it is smooth and rich versus runny, and our flavor, smoke and heat give us a unique position as both an everyday hot sauce and that secret ingredient for what you choose to create at the grill or in the kitchen. We only make one sauce and plan to keep it that way.

EDCO: How has the pandemic affected your business? 

Craig: Covid-19 hasn’t changed much for us except that we can’t offer tastings and demos of our sauce which has likely impacted our in-store sales. That pales in comparison to the hardship of others in our ecosystem. The biggest impact has been on our wholesale customers – grocery, specialty retailers, restaurants, and food carts. We measure our success by the success of our customers, and we are doing all we can to support them and enhance the hard work these key stakeholders are doing.

With all the change and variable pain, there has been so much good that has come out of the circumstances surrounding the pandemic.  For us, a sense of community and shared experience in Central Oregon has been a blessing as we all navigate these unique times together.  New and old friends in Oregon, nationally and globally are now closer to us through this event. The love of family, friends and business relationships is palpable.

EDCO: Have you worked on any COVID-19 related initiatives to support neighbors and the community?

Craig: Yes, when COVID 19 hit we immediately pivoted from selling to restaurants to giving them Bend Sauce at no cost and doing all we can to support the community in other ways, including through SOS Bend. Our tagline is BEND SAUCE LOVE HERE.  We want to demonstrate that through our actions as well as our sauce.

EDCO: How do you support EDCO and why?

Craig: First, we are a member because of the great work EDCO does in helping support, expand and recruit business opportunities for Central Oregon.

Second, EDCO has always been a part of our world.  From PubTalks, to the initial call Craig made to EDCO regarding Bend Sauce and our hope to be introduced to Food Cluster members here in Central Oregon, to Craig and Royce attending the Bend Venture Conference, and coordination with EDCO regarding business recruitment and technology industry activities. Craig and Royce’s day jobs in commercial real estate first brought the family to Central Oregon in 1995 on business matters when Craig helped Tektronix kick off the Old Mill District with Bill Smith.


If you would like to surprise your customers and/or your employees with a special Bend Sauce gift view their corporate gift program.

Credit Associates: Committed to Supporting Our Community

Bend, Ore. – September 8, 2020:  Established in 2000, Credit Associates is a local debt collections agency that takes a unique consultative approach to recover past-due accounts. Through their proprietary processes, they’ve found that when people are treated with dignity and respect, outcomes are favorable for all. Their motto is “Protecting What You’ve Built” for both businesses and consumers.

We spoke with Wes Fischer, Credit Associates President, to learn more about their business and their inherent desire to give back to this community we call home, including a collaborative effort with Laird Superfood and Scissor Bird Sewing & Alterations, called Operation Inspire, a project to supply masks to St. Charles Health System.

EDCO: Tell us more about Credit Associates and what makes you unique. 

Wes: Through the process of proprietary accounting practices, Credit Associates is able to resolve debt conflict much faster for the creditor and with much less burden to the consumer. We take a unique and highly effective approach to the collections process. We pride ourselves on our emphatic personal approach to the collections process when consumer hardship is identified. In many instances, we serve as consultants to develop solutions that benefit all parties. Most important, we don’t get paid for effort, only for results.

EDCO: What type of businesses can you help?

Wes: We serve primarily medical, financial, commercial, and governmental entities. We strive to support all business sectors, regardless of size, in Central Oregon.

EDCO: What are the benefits of having a business in Central Oregon?

Wes: After many years of vacationing and, honestly, trying to spend as much time as possible in Central Oregon, I fell in love with this community and made the decision to move my young family here in 1992. Upon taking over the management of the only locally owned and operated agency at the time, I realized that in order to be a part of the community you must support the community. With this in mind, I started Credit Associates in April 2000. Our mission is to bring more equitable solutions to both businesses and consumers living in Central Oregon.

EDCO: Tell us about the various ways in which you support our community.

Wes: I believe that being local actually requires that one does more than just claim to support the community. Credit Associates has supported numerous initiatives, including sponsoring youth athletic programs as well as providing support and fundraising efforts for a variety of Central Oregon charities and organizations that benefit our unique community.

EDCO: How has COVID-19 impacted your business and how have you pivoted?

Wes: With the issues related to the pandemic, we have seen a large part of our community struggle with debt. In response, Credit Associates has provided consumers with much needed relief via payment deferral and reduction. While this would seem to affect overall recovery performance, we are seeing many consumers using the equity in their homes to resolve issues related to debt, thus, our assignors are not experiencing as much of a revenue loss related to their account listings as one might expect. We’re also seeing more digital communications and more web-based resolution of debt.

Additionally, being a longstanding community supporter, we know that giving back to the community we live and work in is essential to our collective survival. Together, we need to keep our revenue working within our local economy. We try to do our part by supporting local businesses every chance we get.

EDCO: How have you partnered with EDCO?

Wes: It was our relationship as an EDCO member that allowed us to amplify the call for assistance and support for our frontline medical providers through Operation Inspire, an initiative to provide masks to our local frontline workers at St. Charles Health System. This relationship helped provide thousands of needed PPE and nutritional supplements to those most at risk. Through EDCO’s assistance, connections, inspiration, and take action character, three local businesses came together to help those who help us.

For additional information on Credit Associates, visit their website.

EDCO Progress Update by Community

Central Oregon community

Bend, Ore., September 8, 2020 – A common theme heard by EDCO’s Area Directors is that they are busier than they’ve ever been. As a result of COVID-19, the demand to live and work in Central Oregon has never been greater. Learn more as each Director provides a summary of the economic happenings in their respective community.

Don Myll, Bend Area Director

The initial jolt from COVID affected our Bend traded sector companies across the board in a variety of forms. Today, the overall impact is mostly in the rearview mirror (unlike the services sectors including restaurants, travel, etc.). We’ve shifted from assistance with CARES Act funding in April to helping secure available local incentives in July & August. Over 60% of COVID job losses (except the service sector) were recovered by the end of July. For most manufacturing companies, bottlenecks in the supply chain have worked themselves out and manufacturing volumes are back to pre-COVID levels. Some industries, including outdoor products, have seen above year-over-year sales volume increases.

There’s a strong interest in commercial land and building demand for our existing companies to meet growth expectations. New commercial development in Juniper Ridge, in which infrastructure expansion is currently underway, is now an attractive alternative. The city is actively responding to development interests. Bend Municipal Airport has become a viable and cost-effective option for select companies. There are several Enterprise Zone projects in the works for existing Bend companies that are growing as well as relocating companies. Relocation projects have picked up significantly since the world began to adjust to COVID-19. This is likely due to Bend’s perennial attractiveness as well as quality of life concerns have hastened the interest in moving to Bend both by small companies representing a range of industries and individuals that work remotely.

 Jon Stark, Redmond Area Senior Director

Today, Redmond is in demand. The work at Redmond Economic Development (REDI) has not slowed down with the pandemic. In recent weeks, REDI has shown more land and buildings than ever before and six new projects have been added to the pipeline.

Currently, out of the 35 projects REDI has in the pipeline, 18 of those are considered “HOT.” This is atypical as usually only a handful at a time are very active. With all the demand for more industrial space from businesses, REDI is working with local and out-of-area developers to deliver 8-10 new buildings and hopefully a future industrial park.

What is driving this movement? There are three main driving factors:
1.) Money is cheap right now.
2.) Businesses have been in pain for two years because they can’t find property to meet their expansion needs or they simply have not had the time to look. The earlier months of COVID-19 gave companies the break they needed to solve some of the problems they’ve been feeling.
3.) People are no longer comfortable in big cities. The will to get to Central Oregon is so strong and lifestyle and livability are the top driving factors for the movement we are seeing.

To learn more about what is driving the Redmond economy, read more here.

Affordable living and childcare continue to be an increasing concern. We, together as a community, need to resolve this issue to meet our workforce demands.  Today, East Cascades Works is partnering with Better Together to support the expansion of childcare options for school-aged children in support of working parents and guardians. Learn more here. Additionally, Learn and Play, a new childcare run under Redmond Proficiency Academy just opened in August.

Caprielle Foote-Lewis, Sisters Area Director

Sisters Country Economic Development (SCED) has never been busier. In Q2 things were really quiet for a couple of months due to the pandemic. As we transitioned from late Q2 into Q3, business started to pick up. Growing Sisters businesses need more space and want to stay in Sisters. Businesses from outside the region, now more than ever, want to relocate. With its natural environment and small community feel, Sisters makes an attractive option. As a result, we’re seeing an influx of natural products and specialty food & beverage industries eyeing the Sisters community. We are not seeing as much movement in early stage companies as many are trying to find funding and are watching their capital.

One of SCED’s focuses has been to work with the community to increase inventory for lite industrial use. In addition to the Three Sisters Business Park and the Sun Ranch Business Park (zoned mixed-use light industrial/manufacturing/live work), where discussions are underway to create a makers district, a local developer purchased 17 acres on the north side of town with the intent to re-zone the property from public use to light industrial. If approved, there will be 15 new light industrial parcels in Sisters, in which the developer is already taking pre-purchase reservations.

There has been a noticeable culture shift in Sisters. The Sisters Country Chamber has done a great job getting tourisst to Sisters. Once people arrive, vacation, and experience the small-town feeling, they leave with a desire to stay. Today, technology advances are making it possible to stay, live and work here. This is a top driver in our current growth. Since the pandemic, the move to this lifestyle has accelerated individuals’ and businesses’ plans to move. They no longer have to be in big cities. If you value a high quality of life, you can do it in Sisters.

Kelsey Lucas, Prineville/Crook County Area Director

In response to the pandemic, The Crook County COVID Relief Task Force quickly formed and funded a grant program in the amount of $278,000 to help Crook County businesses. The task force is comprised of the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce, Crook County, the City of Prineville, the Prineville Downtown Association, and Facebook’s Data Center in Prineville. To date, nearly $263,000 has been distributed. Industries impacted and awarded funds included construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, real estate and leasing services, professional and technical services, business administration services, educational services, health care, arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodations and food services, and event sectors.

Prineville is home to both new and redeveloped speculative building developments in Baldwin Industrial Park and at the former Woodgrain Mill site. These spaces are available for lease and are intended to continue bringing new family wage jobs and capital investment to Crook County. Spec building space is available in the Baldwin Industrial Cessna Drive buildings (10,000 sq. ft. each) and in the Tom McCall industrial park providing custom building space based on need. There’s a large volume of interest in leasing spec industrial space and developing land reserved for spec development. There are multiple businesses interested in larger-scale manufacturing developments on Millican and Hwy 126. We are seeing an influx of aviation and aerospace leads. Many companies are looking at relocation or expansion at the Prineville Airport due to the new industrial space opened post-helibase completion and developments in Tom McCall industrial park adjacent to the airport.

The housing market is booming with low rates. We see people moving here to get out of the city and/or to be near family.

CTE Academy is a State accredited online academy that is tuition-free in 22 states. Oregon’s branch is based in Prineville and could be a good resource as online schooling is becoming more the “norm.”

Facebook continues to spread its generosity to help promote economic growth, education and inspiration in a community that they, too, call home. Here is a list of some of the support they’ve provided…

Facebook COVID relief support:

  • $450,000 to the Crook County School District Foundation to support remote learning for students. This includes expanding the school bus wifi program to every bus and a 3-year service and privacy software subscription, laptops for students to use at home, and robotics kits and lessons for students to use at home.
  • $200,000 to the Prineville/Crook County COVID-19 small business relief fund and Central Oregon SOS fund for small businesses in need. These grants include businesses with sole proprietors.
  • An additional $175,000 in cash and ad credits to small businesses between 2-35 employees.
  • $50,000 to East Cascade Works for urgent COVID-19 healthcare worker training.
  • $50,000 to the Crook County Foundation and Family Access Network to help with additional community relief and family needs.

Facebook Educational Support:

  • $50,000 for robotics education programs for all Crook County schools
  • $100,000 for career and technical modules for high school students
  • Hosted a digital online safety seminar for parents, teachers and students.

Facebook Community:

  • $210,000 provided to community non-profits in 2020.
    *** 2021 grants are opening Sep 14th for all Crook County non-profits. Check their Facebook page to apply ***

Facebook Diversity and inclusion:

  • A diversity and technology sponsor of a Central Oregon Young Professional summit in 2019, focusing on resiliency and entrepreneurship.
  • Sponsoring a Black author program at all Crook County schools, with a guest speaker in the works for the 2020-21 school year.
  • Supporting minority small businesses through KIVA small business mentorship.
  • Providing $40 million in Black-owned small business grants (nationwide)

Patricia Lucas, Interim Sunriver/La Pine Area Director

La Pine is currently experiencing a housing boom.  What is driving this boom? Location, cost and demand. The cost is significantly less than the more urban areas of Deschutes County. For those residents that commute, the driving time requirement is worth the cost savings.  Further, when the developers conducted their market analysis, they must have seen that La Pine could support the number of units that they are proposing to develop. Here are some of new housing developments:

  • Pine Landing – a ten lot single-family subdivision east of Hwy 97
  • The Reserves – 191 single-family residential lots, and two commercial lots with parks and open space located immediately east of Huntington Road and south of Crescent Creek subdivision
  • Evans Estates – 61 lot single family subdivision located immediately east of Huntington Meadows subdivision east of Hwy 97
  • Habitat for Humanity is continuing to build approved 19 lot townhome subdivision with common area located along Little Deschutes Lane
  • Star Storage La Pine LLC – 36 unit multifamily development; 25,329 self-storage facility with office, apartment and garage
  • Crescent Creek Subdivision No. 4 – 51 lot single-family housing