The Economic Development for Central Oregon has closed its regional office in Madras but will continue its efforts to garner businesses in Jefferson County.
“If anything, we will be doubling down on our energies and resources in Jefferson County in the year ahead from our regional office to determine, with stakeholders in Jefferson County, how best to deliver economic development services there,” said Roger Lee, EDCO CEO.
EDCO’s decision raised concerns for Madras City Councilor Bartt Brick. The plan to cover Jefferson County from its Bend office may lead to more difficulties because the communities are so diverse, Brick said.
“One of the reasons they stated for pulling out in Jefferson County is (EDCO) wasn’t getting the results they were looking for,” Brick said. “I would think they’d put more resources in, rather than less.
“I hope that they maintain their commitment for Jefferson County as they have in the past.”
From 2010 to 2018, 17 businesses brought in 157 jobs to the Jefferson County community, Lee said. So far in 2019 that number has plummeted to three businesses offering 30 jobs.
Lee could not pinpoint one specific event that lead to the closure of the regional office. EDCO is a non-profit corporation supported by private as well as some public stakeholders. The stated mission is to lure traded-sector employers from outside the region to bring middle class jobs to Central Oregon, according to EDCO’s website.
“EDCO believes that Jefferson County has great economic promise, however, for reasons that we need to discover and work through with local leaders, it has not been keeping pace with the rest of the Central Oregon region,” Lee said. “This difficult decision is an attempt to chart a different course in Jefferson County toward greater prosperity.”