Community Building: From industrial clusters, to educational excellence

By: Wendy Edde, Leadership Bend Class of 2016

In February, Leadership Bend engaged on a variety of topics, beginning with “Tech Clusters and Industry Sectors.”  Clusters are groups of similar firms in a specific geographic area working collaboratively on improving the value chain from suppliers to end products.  Sectors are larger, goods-producing segments of the economy.

Panelists from four local industry clusters provided insights:   Les Mace (bioscience/healthcare cluster focusing on biotech or medical devises, representing about 25 companies);  Pam Stevenson and Gary Bracelin (Oregon Outdoor Alliance and Bend Outdoor Worx, the only outdoor focused incubator and accelerator in the country); Tierney O’Dea and Taylor Mahoney (Tech Alliance of Central Oregon); and Tim Moore (farm-to-shelf food industry).

In common, these clusters provide opportunities for networking, successfully coaching members from entrepreneurship to mentorship with more established firms assisting startups.  One goal is coordinating how members can work together to bring products to market more efficiently,  recognizing common needs and pooling resources where they can act stronger as a group.  Some provide collaborative workspaces and special focus efforts such as encouraging women in startup tech; others provide service components.  All provide community leadership through collaboration and efficiency opportunities, while helping support a viable talent base.

After the City Club’s “Water Management Lessons” session, Leadership Bend members returned to another enlightening panel entitled “Our Educational Ecosystem.”  Dr. Marla Hacker (OSU-Cascades), Dr. Shirley Metcalf (Central Oregon Community College), Shae Mikalson (Bend-La Pine Schools) and Bruce Cleveland (Bend Polytechnic Academy) each provided insightful overviews of their institution’s offerings.  Bend-La Pine Schools remains one of the fastest growing, up 400 students this year to 17,500 students and seeks to meet the breadth of children’s educational needs.  Our college programs are geared to lifelong learning, with 51 the average age for no credit enrollment, and are shaped by local community demand, such as new programs in hospitality and engineering coming to OSU-Cascades.  The new Bend Polytechnic Academy offers a post-college professional skills program focused on high growth areas such as digital marketing.  The initial class realized a 60 percent workforce placement rate.

Additionally, Leadership Bend members continued planning the Central Oregon Impact Summit, challenging nonprofits to learn and compete for a $10,000 grant during “Pitch for a Purpose,” a not-to-be-missed event taking place on Tuesday May 10 at the Riverhouse Convention Center.

A sincere thank you to each presenter, COCC for providing meeting space and a tour of their beautiful new dormitory, City Club, and to the Bend Chamber and Leadership Bend sponsors for making these opportunities possible.

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