The Klamath County Economic Development Association (KCEDA) continues its work on at least 17 active projects to bring more resources to the area, according to Executive Director Randy Cox. The group also added 10 new members in the last month.
Cox, who joined staff and more than 50 KCEDA members at a quarterly meeting Monday night, joined economic development group this fall. He’s taking more interest in keeping members active and further exploring what resources they could use to bring new business into the basin, he said.
“They’re projects we’re actively pursuing that fall into either recruitment and attraction, retention and expansion, or entrepreneurship and small businesses,” Cox said.
KCEDA is a local economic development group that uses public and private money to increase business retention and company interest in the area. The group takes advantage of a “pay-to-play” model, which is similar to those in Bend and other areas.
At least $200,000 comes from Klamath County annually, in addition to $50,000 from the city of Klamath Falls.
New perks, potential partnerships
Many gathered at the Favell Museum Monday to celebrate the addition of new KCEDA members and others who have decided to upgrade their own packages. Package prices range from $500 to $5,000 annually depending on benefits.
This includes the induction of Skyline Brewery, a new startup effort by the Kliewer brothers, as a regular honorary member.
Ty Kliewer, who started the brewery with his brother Ry, said he saw membership as a great opportunity to further network with other business owners in the community. He also touched on the importance of sharing stories of success and struggle within the agriculture scene.
“I think there are kind of opportunities that help other agricultural producers and help other businesses locally as well,” Kliewer said. “Building a lot of partnerships is really going to be beneficial in the whole community.”
Monday’s meeting also brought a new idea to the table: the firm auctioned off two tours of Skyline Brewery at $1,000 each. Proceeds are set to go toward a new workforce housing task force headed up by KCEDA.
KCEDA Operations Manager Andrew Stork said that they plan to continue many similar fundraising events at future meetings and events.
Outlook for development encouraging
More recent announcements include the addition of American Garden Perlite, which could bring dozens of jobs into the area at the former Aqua Glass site, and Holiday Market, a new downtown grocery store that helped address a previous in-town “food desert” and brought an additional 50 service jobs to the area.
Cox said he plans to continue focus on why companies should choose Klamath County as a base of operations for recruitment or retention, in addition to further scoping out additional hot spots that could be used to market the area to others.
In terms of active projects and confidentiality, Stork said they wanted to remain sensitive to the needs and desires of companies that they do maintain active projects with.
Due to nondisclosure agreements, KCEDA cannot often comment on any active or pending projects out of what they describe as respect for the business and companies looking into deals. Stork did say he would continue work to make as much information available as possible.
“Those are two separate things, but I’d say for us, we want to make sure we’re being informative while maintaining the sensitivity for each of these companies,” Stork said.
Cox and Stork both shared optimism with continued projects in the future, saying that their regular quarterly meetings could help increase partnerships and conversations on how to increase development in the area.
“I think there’s a lot of promise for the area,” Stork said.
But many projects, Cox added, are going to take some time.
“Sometimes, when we’re talking to a company today, that project might not happen until 2022,” Cox said. “We have to engage today to make sure a project has wheels.”