Economic Development for Central Oregon requests county funds

Deschutes County could provide more than $220,000 to the organization next year

By Elon Glucklich / The Bulletin / @EGlucklich

Published Apr 24, 2014 at 12:01AM

Economic Development for Central Oregon is asking Deschutes County for $222,000 over the next year, to help the organization recruit new companies to the region and finance some of its day-to-day work.

The county support would make up about one-fifth of EDCO’s budget for the next fiscal year, starting July 1.

Deschutes County has long provided EDCO with a share of the Oregon lottery funds it receives from the state. But the amount has risen in recent years, as EDCO debuted new programs for startup businesses and the county has moved to support them financially. The $222,000 would be the most the county has given EDCO in at least five years, and nearly double the amount it has gotten in most recent years.

Roger Lee, EDCO’s executive director, updated Deschutes County commissioners on the agency’s job-creating efforts this week.

He said EDCO helped played a role in creating 803 jobs in 2013, boosting payroll in Central Oregon by nearly $33 million.

The $222,000 ask from the county is up slightly from $217,000 it received for the current fiscal year. The average between 2009 and 2012 was $116,000.

“We’re pretty much holding steady,” Lee said. “But there’s definitely some brisk (business) activity out there. We think we’re going to have a very strong year.”

He called the county’s funding of EDCO programs a “crucial piece” in its efforts each year.”

EDCO is not a department of any local government, but serves as a partner between Central Oregon counties, cities, local businesses and outside companies considering a move or expansion. Much of the nonprofit’s funding comes from contributions by EDCO members, made up of area businesses. But it also relies on Central Oregon counties and cities for a piece of its budget each year.

EDCO plans to spend more than $322,000 next fiscal year on business expansion efforts in Bend, Redmond, Sisters and La Pine, according to financial documents submitted to Deschutes County.

Of that total, $139,000 would go to Redmond, which has its own economic development agency that works alongside EDCO. About $90,000 would go to Bend, $48,000 to La Pine and $45,200 to Sisters, according to county documents.

Lee said EDCO’s total budget would be just more than $1 million.

Commissioner Tammy Baney said the partnership with EDCO, and the lottery revenue that funds the county’s share of its budget, takes pressure off the county to dedicate its own staff and money to business efforts.

The commissioners were not hesitant to keep the funds coming.

“We’re not just sending money out and hoping for the best,” Commissioner Tony DeBone said. “I’m very confident with what we’re doing.”

The funding amount won’t be set in stone until Deschutes County finalizes its budget for the next year. Budget discussions are set to start in late May.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, eglucklich@bendbulletin.com