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