Five years ago, the City of Bend launched a new committee that has since become the hub of a strategic and well-coordinated effort to bring business to Bend and keep it here. It’s called the Bend Economic Development Advisory Board (BEDAB)—a 13-member team made up of business owners and the city’s key economic development partners. The board is doing great things to propel our business community forward. These are the highlights of its work.
* *Top 10 BEDAB Successes* *
1. Business support community galvanized. Most importantly, BEDAB has brought a great team together. In the past, groups such as Economic Development for Central Oregon, Bend Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Development Center, Visit Bend and the City of Bend each had its own game plan. Now, through BEDAB, these groups work in tandem, each understanding its role in the economic development eco-system and larger effort to build Bend’s business scene.
2. City agenda revamped with a business focus. Through BEDAB and the hiring of Carolyn Eagan as the Bend Business Advocate in 2012, the City of Bend is now tapped into the needs of the business community like never before. As new plans for capital projects around the city are made, BEDAB and Eagan now bring home victories for the business community in the process such as encouraging prioritization of development in employment lands and sewer improvements that benefit business. Through this process, Bend has become a city that links long-range planning goals with economic goals.
3. Communication from businesses to the City streamlined. Now that BEDAB is up and running, business owners know where to go to reach the city about critical issues such as zoning, fees or ordinance concerns. BEDAB then has the authority to bring these issues directly before the Bend City Council or to the right department, clearing the way for a rapid response to issues.
4. Target industries identified. Through the collective knowledge of all the business organizations at the BEDAB table, the group has been able to identify five core industries that Bend is ready to serve. These groups include the outdoor industry, aviation and aerospace, technology and software, bioscience and advanced manufacturing. As our coordinated economic development efforts become more sophisticated each group is pulling in its own way to direct these business types to town.
5. Business support directory created. This desktop directory allows businesses to quickly look up who can best help them with their problem. If you want to create a tech meet-up, the number for Tech Alliance is right there. A question about the enterprise zone? EDCO’s contact info is at your fingertips.
6. Bendforbusiness.com up and running. Through a partnership with Visit Bend, BEDAB has launched this very website bendforbusiness.com. Serving as a business recruitment tool and place to share successes and news, bendforbusiness.com is the place to learn why Bend is great for business.
7. Cohesive marketing plan in effect. The economic development organizations involved in BEDAB now speak with one voice through a coordinated marketing effort. Bend has a lot to offer and through the synergy of a coordinated media campaign that message has been amplified to the world.
8. Relocation packet done. For businesses considering moving to Bend, BEDAB has created a relocation packet available through the Visit Bend website filled with information about this community and why we’re great for business. Not only that, but when a relocation packet is requested, Bend Business Advocate Carolyn Eagan is able to follow up with a personal email to the business, increasing the likelihood that businesses give Bend the consideration we’re hoping for.
9. Welcome packet ready for action. For businesses that have moved to Bend, BEDAB is ready to help and tells them so with a packet of critical information such as the business support directory and information about how to plug into the business community right away.
10. Future goals envisioned. Now that many of the first steps have been taken including a strategic vision, a marketing plan and a website, BEDAB is looking to take Bend’s economic development efforts to the next level by identifying legislative opportunities that could be a boost for businesses in Bend, by lobbying local and regional government for more economic development tools and by finding the resources to spread the good word about this community farther and wider.