(Photo | Courtesy of EDCO Prineville)
Prineville/Crook County Economic Development through Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO)’s mission is to help move, start and grow traded-sector businesses to purposefully create a balanced and diverse economy both locally and region-wide. The Prineville/Crook County program was initiated in 2007, with this year marking 13 years of active engagement in Crook County’s growing community. The program has the support of a local advisory board that is 19 members strong across a diverse group of industries. The board plays a significant role in collaborating and strategizing on how to make this community prosper.
Funding for the Prineville/Crook County program comes from both public and private members and stakeholders. The City of Prineville, Crook County, and the Chamber are all key partners and contributors, as well as private businesses from around the County and Central Oregon region wishing to support a stronger, robust and inclusive economy in Crook County.
Prineville is the oldest community in the Central Oregon region, but remains innovative in terms of industry diversification, nationally-acclaimed infrastructure projects, and the progressive attitude of local leaders and partners. Prineville offers a collaborative and tight-knit community, traditionally driven by forest products, Les Schwab Tires and agricultural operations. While still thriving in these historic industries, today Prineville has some of the largest employers in the region in the form of Fortune 50 high-technology data centers, supporting sector employers and national manufacturers. With an incredibly active Chamber, recently developed Downtown Association, large Federal grants awarded and an influx of new residents and students, Prineville offers a network of business owners, leaders and stakeholders that are committed to making the community vibrant for both residents and businesses.
Some 2020 Crook County economic highlights include:
Crook County leadership organizations set up a COVID relief task force in order to help companies with gap financing for fixed costs such as mortgage/lease payments and utilities or payroll support for companies waiting on SBA financing, companies that did not qualify for SBA financing, or sole proprietors/ independent contractors. The Prineville-Crook County Chamber acted as the fiscal agent and the task force included individuals from the Chamber, City of Prineville, Crook County, EDCO, COIC, Office of Rep. Vikki-Breese Iverson, Prineville Downtown Association and Facebook’s Prineville Data Center. These grants were available up to $2,500 per business and $1,250 per sole proprietor. 138 Crook County businesses have been awarded $209,575 in business assistance grants thus far, with more funding going live this month through additional funding awarded by Business Oregon. 12 local businesses even returned their awarded grant funding to be redistributed to a business owner with more imminent need. 55.5% of all business that applied for the grant remained opened in some capacity throughout the Stay at Home order.
Prineville’s newest traded-sector company is Krah USA, a German plastic pipe manufacturer new to the United States, but with roots around the world. Krah will be leasing space at the Prineville Railway Freight Depot and employing around 14 employees initially and then expanding to 20 in year two and 30 in year three. They plan to be in full operation by September of this year and will be manufacturing and shipping custom pipe from their Prineville headquarters. Krah USA will produce several products including the proprietary large-diameter, high pressure Krah HDPE pipe, a variety of sizes of Solid Wall HDPE pipe, manholes, fittings and fixtures. Krah USA is operated by CEO Midge Graybeal and her partner, Mark Theetge, who is the President and Chief Sales Officer, both local to Central Oregon, with Theetge growing up in Bend and Graybeal coming from Terrebonne. According to Graybeal, “After completing due diligence reviewing ten Central Oregon sites from Bend to Madras, the City of Prineville Railroad property was chosen as most compatible to our 22 listed requirements, including an existing and available large scale building, expansion capabilities, a loading rail dock and a separate office space among other amenities.”
Prineville is also 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. Both spaces have the capacity to house a range of light and heavy industrial businesses in close proximity to Prineville’s downtown commercial hub.
EDCO Prineville still plans to host a 2020 Annual Luncheon at Brasada Ranch later in the year, as well as the Made in Crook County Tour in the Fall. The Annual Lunch will focus on translating branding into the optimum digital experience for a business’s customer base, which is something that the EDCO Prineville advisory board has been working on as part of the marketing strategy for our local program as well. Ellen Morningstar of Morningstar Films, based in Prineville, is working on a business and industry film featuring the wonderful companies, jobs and lifestyle assets attracting new businesses and residents to the community being one of these efforts. More event details to come in the next couple of months as we look forward to reconnecting with members and partners face-to-face.