It’s been a very busy first quarter in the Prineville area. New equipment installations for Woodgrain, planned new elementary school and hospital coupled with a recently established BBQ sauce and spice rubs and a metal fabrication company are all contributing to a resurgence in the economy.
Russ Deboodt, Prineville/Crook County EDCO manager, says, “We have a strong and diverse list of prospect companies we are working with in Prineville, which shows the economic climate is improving. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September 2008, but we still have work to do. The new hospital and elementary school will have a major impact on the livability or our community and certainly will continue to boost the momentum we have had over the past few years.”
While the unemployment rate was 14.5 percent in 2012 it has been reduced to 10.8 percent. Crook County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.9 percent in March 2014, essentially no change from 10.8 percent in February. Unemployment levels are down from their year-ago rate of 12.8 percent. Businesses are moving into and expanding in Prineville.
Below is an update on the economic activities in Prineville/Crook County.
Economic Update Prineville/Crook County
Woodgrain has successfully completed the new equipment installations at the Prineville facility. The new operations have been very successful and allowed the company to add over 50 full time positions to their payroll. The company does not want me to give out the exact dollar figures that were actually spent on the project but it was substantial, in the $2-3 million dollar range. Again, this project has not only been a major success for the company, but also for the community, which was in danger of losing the operations all together.
New School and Hospital
Along with the new St. Charles facility that is being rapidly constructed at the old Ochoco Lumber site, Prineville is currently working on a new elementary school and infrastructure that will support it (i.e. a new road). This school will replace two of the three existing elementary schools in the district.
Since January 1, two new companies have begun operations in Prineville. The first, Central Oregon Sauce and Seasoning manufactures custom BBQ sauce and spice rubs and currently employs five people. The second project, which is so new Deboodt can’t share the name, but they are a custom metal fabrication company that will employ 20-25 people and should be up and running by July.
In general it has been a very busy first quarter of 2014. The City planning department has been busy with new housing applications, and the City of Prineville Railroad continues to work hard to support its current customers and expand its business. A downtown strategic planning Group has been created to investigate the needs of downtown and possibly funding sources that could be tapped to accomplish those needs.
“Finally we continue to aggressively market our large inventory of industrial land, our abundant power supply and strong workforce to try and attract a variety of industries to our community and the region,” concludes Deboodt.
Profiles on several key companies helping to ease the unemployment burden in Prineville including Robberson Ford, BTL Liners, Contact Industries, Woodgrain Millworks, Envirotech, Northwest Sign Recycling, Solstice Brewing and ICP Northwest can be found in the January 16, 2014 issue of Cascade Business News.