Bend's new Innovation District is a first

Not to create anew but reflect what's already here

Bend's new Innovation District a first

BEND, Ore. - A swath of southwest Bend has a brand new moniker -- the Innovation District. It stretches from the OSU-Cascades Graduate and Research Center to the main campus to the west.

In between are plenty of businesses that fit the new label for the area.

"We already have a lot of innovative companies stacked in here," Five Talent Software CEO Preston Callicott said Thursday evening. "Tech, bio, e-commerce -- all sorts of different kinds of entrepreneurial endeavors here."

The purpose of the designation isn't just to bring in new companies. It's also to highlight the ones already there.

"We're already innovative," Callicott said. "This is not something we're bringing in as a concept. We're proving that we've been innovative since the pioneer days."

This Innovation District isn't modeled after another city's idea, either.

"I look at Silicon Valley as a bunch of sharks eating their young," Callicott said. "We're more like dolphins that collaborate and cooperate and help each other, right? That's the Bend spirit."

And the innovation isn't limited to businesses -- entrepreneurs want local government to follow their lead.

"Try something," Callicott said. "Don't be afraid to try something because the populace is going to get mad at you. We have to start giving them some space to experiment on their way to finding successful solutions for us."

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