2019, More of the Same? Well, Maybe


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As most CBN readers know, Central Oregon’s business sector is smokin’ red-hot these days, all cylinders are firing. We’ve been in a growth mode since 2009 and, all things considered, that won’t be changing anytime soon.

Unless, that is, some of those “all things” decide to raise their ugly heads and disrupt the world that we live in, as happened in 2008. Those potential disruptions include a long list of scary topics including China, Russia, North Korea, the Mueller investigation, global warming, artificial intelligence (and its impact on jobs), the Economy, The Wall, unbridled partisanship in our federal government and a host of other looming national and worldwide issues over which you and I have zero control.

So, my short answer to what’s in Central Oregon’s immediate economic future? We’ll continue killing it, if left alone.

Incidentally, CBN asked me to write a similar piece last year and my message was virtually the same; “Leave us alone and we’ll leave you in our dust.” The problem is, of course, we won’t/can’t be left alone. The world is out there and it’s big and it’s scary, and we need it to make at least semi-rational decisions in order for all of us to succeed.

There are, incidentally, a number of reasons why Central Oregon’s economy is on full throttle these days. Foremost among them are that we have a diversified business sector, a wealth of talented people, and a unique energy level that knows no bounds.

Plus, we’ve got this growing, thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. That ecosystem includes such kickass players as…

EDCO: EDCO continues to get better and better. Their events, their business recruitment, their support for our businesses. When it comes to creating jobs, they’re number one in the State of Oregon.

OSU: OSU is, as hoped, positively impacting our region and its culture. They bring a sense of academic curiosity and unfettered innovation to our table, at the same time they’re tangibly involved in enhancing our ecosystem. In short, they’re doing everything they’ve said they were going to do, and more.

The City of Bend: The City is officially creating some sort of a Director of Innovation position. It’s too early to tell what the result will be, but the fact that they’ve recognized the opportunity and are doing something about it is significant. (Is Bend on their way to officially being anointed as Oregon’s “City of Innovation”?)

The City of Prineville: If ever there’s any doubt about the value of tax incentives, Prineville is the poster child for why such incentives work. You gotta love the way in which its city leaders have managed the partnership with Facebook and Apple. A win-win outcome, if ever there was one.

The City of Madras: Maybe they don’t have data centers, but this community-of-diversity does have an active aviation presence, the Daimler test track project, Keith Manufacturing, Brightwood and a team of scrappy community leaders who make things happen.

The Bend Chamber: They’ve unshackled the image of what most people expect a Chamber to look like. The cool stuff they’re doing with Bend’s young business types (check out the Chamber’s YPN and mentoring programs for example) is ensuring Bend’s future.

The best thing about Central Oregon’s economy is that there is no limit as to how far or how fast it can grow. Thanks to the hockey stick growth of our traded sector businesses (in such industries as tech, bio-science, outdoor, aviation, craft breweries and food), the effective market for our region’s services and products is the world, not the region.

Sure, we’re competing for market share like everyone else, but not for market share in our region, we’re competing for market share in the nation and the world. Which is why Central Oregon needs both of them to get their s*&# together.

For more on the subject of Central Oregon’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, or for a fresh look at What Makes Bend Special, go to Amazon.com and check out my author page. You’ll find books on both of those subjects and more.


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Jim Schell

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