(The businesses already located in La Pine’s Industrial Park have invested more than $11.8 million and created 141 local jobs in the past eight years | Photo by Andrea Hine)
In the words of La Pine City Manager Geoff Wullschlager, Patricia Lucas, the executive director of SLED (Sunriver-La Pine Economic Development), “facilitated the sale of more land in 2021-2022 than had been sold in the previous decade.”
Charged with helping businesses find industrial space to relocate, build or expand, among other objectives, Lucas is unfailingly modest, admitting only that “I’m a very proactive person, and involved in most leases and sales of commercial and industrial property.” In the past 12 months alone, these include four transactions in La Pine’s fully-infrastructured Industrial Park — in which only 160 acres out of 330 remain available:
- Oberon Mining purchased a 2,500-sqaure-foot building for a renewable energy data center.
- Hortitech Direct, a manufacturer of greenhouses and steel buildings, plans an expansion of up to 3,200 feet.
The signing of these two companies “represents a step forward in making La Pine a vibrant city with employment opportunities at wages a family can live on in south Deschutes County,” praised the Bend Bulletin.
- In addition, Mountain Star Family Relief is opening in the Industrial Park this summer, which will assist in creating more childcare opportunities for residents who may want to seek employment.
- Quicksilver Contracting has acquired an additional 12.32 acres of industrial property to facilitate future growth.
The result — after adding Central Oregon Excursions, a storage facility, and six others to the Industrial Park mix — is a total investment over the past eight years of more than $11.8 million, and the creation of 141 local jobs, according to Lucas.
“Although the level of interest has decreased locally due to higher interest rates and escalating costs, which is also true at the state and national levels, there is still a lot of activity,” she said. “SLED has nine projects in the pipeline, in various stages of development, representing a private sector investment of more than $16.1 million in new capital. The businesses, in the health care, advanced manufacturing, specialty food products, and consumer goods sectors, will occupy an estimated 81,000 square feet of building space, and create at least 61 new jobs.”
Touting La Pine’s advantages in attracting these new investments, Lucas pointed out that it offers “the most competitively priced industrial space in Central Oregon.” She also noted that businesses can save $5-$7 per square foot in construction costs because of building on sand, as opposed to rock: $1.75 versus $8-$13 elsewhere. They can also qualify for enterprise zone incentives, including property tax giveaways for three to five years, financing, and workforce development assistance.
Lucas articulated her mission with SLED as “to help move, start, and grow traded-sector businesses to purposefully create a balanced and diverse economy at the local level and for the region.” She credited SLED’s Advisory Board and the communities served by saying in typically modest fashion that “I have great support for what I do.”