by RENEE PATRICK Cascade Business News Feature Writer
As fall comes to the high desert, Redmond is enjoying the benefits of a multitude of recent efforts by the City, Chamber of Commerce and Redmond Economic Development Inc. (REDI). Downtown renovation efforts have created an atmosphere of community and beauty; public art, Centennial Park community events and the return of the popular skating rink are all helping to create a vibrant center for the city. The economy is also fairing well as several new job creators, Central Oregon Trucking Company, Colfax Tactical and Consumer Cellular, have relocated to the area in the past year.
Executive Director of the Redmond Chamber of Commerce, Eric Sande, commented, “The city continues to add tools to the toolbox that can be used [to develop our community]. They have an amazing attitude about getting things done and if the resource isn’t there, they are being very proactive in trying to help businesses….and the city manager search is something we are all looking forward to.”
The can-do attitude has helped attract business and revitalize areas of Redmond, a positive step in an ongoing process. Most of the downtown developments have been completed, and now the City is looking to other sectors: the medical office district and airport district. Jon Stark, the manager at REDI, remarked, “The City has been very creative about how they want to grow those sectors, the downtown is done and we are seeing the effects, [now they are]laying the groundwork for those next plans.”
The loss of 350 jobs from T-Mobile has been felt in the community, but the employment numbers have remained fairly steady. Stark explained that the jobs Consumer Cellular has brought into the community is “backfilling” the space the larger mobile communications company left behind, and as the economic growth increases for primary employers, growth is also felt in secondary employers. “We are not feeling it yet, but seeing it on the horizon, the jobs are underway,” said Stark.
REDI reports current economic momentum has been primarily in the expansion of existing businesses, and with expansion, comes the likelihood of the project actually happening. “We have met with three existing businesses that have expansion plans in the last two months,” explained Stark in the Redmond Chamber of Commerce Business Newsletter for September. “And while we cannot disclose the details of the projects, the aggregate job creation would be 185 jobs over the next twelve months.”
Redmond’s list of assets for the business sector include: low cost of land, large selection of industrial land, airport connectivity to points east, location on crossroads of two highways, telecommunications infrastructure, and a City that is easy to work with, solutions-oriented and creative.
“They [Redmond] did a great job. Rather than creating challenges or hurdles, they get around issues and figure them out, they work hard and are a great group. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people from their planning department to their engineering department, every piece of Redmond is open for business,” commented Rick Williams. Williams made the decision to consolidate his business, Central Oregon Trucking, from two existing sites in Prineville and Terrebonne for greater efficiency. “Anyone looking at moving a business to Redmond or researching if they should, go through REDI. Jon Stark was an immense help. He worked hard and he did a great job,” he continued.
An uptick in the housing market and the opening of Ridgeview High School has also brought energy to Redmond. The upcoming repaving project of Sixth Street is due to take about 13 months, but Sande says there is a big campaign to bring awareness to the construction; while traffic will be impacted, the retail sector will remain open for business. “It’s a big concern,” he said. “It will be an impact on them and we are trying to minimize that. There is a big push to keep the lines of communication open.”
All are optimistic about Redmond’s future, and the positive and proactive attitudes of City leaders will help pave the way for an even stronger community.