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Redmond Rising: Stories of Resiliency

Redmond Rising: Stories of Resiliency

Despite the hardships of the last 15 months, Redmond is poised to grow and thrive well into the future. During the Redmond Economic Development Inc. Annual Luncheon, attendees discovered how well the close-knit community survived the pandemic and how the economy will continue to flourish.

REDI Strong

REDI Executive Director Jon Stark shared the economic tide is rising in Redmond. This past year was one of the busiest for the organization in terms of not only helping businesses stay afloat and pivot during the crisis, but also those manufacturers and industries looking to move into the area.

Stark shared there is $133 million worth of capital investment projects pending for the Redmond area right now which translates to over 500 more jobs. “Last year was the best year we have ever had and we have even better years ahead,” he told a crowd of over 190 attendees.

Oregon State Economist Josh Lehner states the near-term economic outlook is very bright Oregon and expects Deschutes County to be one of the state’s fastest growing counties. The pent up demand for goods and services has already been unleased, proving the economy was actually more resilient than many experts believed.

Lehner expects Oregon to see the largest job growth in the next 6-9 months, but does echo concerns with businesses who are trying to find employees. Several factors contribute to the tight labor market including strong household finances, unemployment benefits, pandemic fears, hard-hit industries hiring out of the same labor pool, retirements, and lack of in-person schooling.   

Besides labor shortages, businesses are also dealing with lack of raw materials, production capacity, and infrastructure and logistic issues.

Resiliency in the Storm

Matt Tobolski, co-founder and President of BASX Solutions, said in a matter of days the company saw a large sector of its business (commercial industrial) disappear. The manufacturer had to pivot quickly and focus its sales force on other areas like data centers. But then, new wrinkles unfolded with supply chain issues, labor shortages, and health guideline restrictions. “We are definitely a lot stronger because of this,” says Matt.

Steve Piazza, CEO of Wild Mike’s Ultimate Pizza, echoes having to learn to quickly pivot. Sixty percent of Wild Mike’s business was schools and the other 40% retail stores. As the pandemic shutdown schools across the country, the Clackamas based food manufacturer who produces over 100,000 semi-truck loads of pizzas for schools each year had to turn its focus towards retailers. Steve points out new hurdles evolved with lack of cold storage facilities, finding suppliers to fill orders for items like pepperoni while remaining true to their 100% all natural products, and getting the finished product to market.

Initiative Brewing in Redmond was only open for nine months when the pandemic hit. Ryan Churchill, co-founder and CFO of Initiative Brewing, says his business has had to pivot from day one. “Every week we had a new challenge,” he says.

Ryan points out the community of Redmond really helped the business to survive the storm. “It was incredible to see how many people reacted so fast,” he says. From REDI to the Redmond Chamber, word spread about takeout orders, applicable grants, PPE and more.

REDI was also there to help BASX as the company moved forward with the expansion of its facility in south Redmond. “It was a balancing act,” said Matt. “Operations was challenging enough, but then you throw in an expansion. Jon Stark was an amazing resource … with his help made the expansion less of a burden.”

Bright Futures

Wild Mike’s is looking to expand its production line with its new Redmond facility while also creating a tour experience for local visitors and students similar to the cheese factory in Tillamook. “Our goal is to become a billion dollar brand,” says Steve.

Initiative Brewing is talking with Costco about selling it’s 4-pack IPA. Ryan says he hopes to increase production and availability of their beers, and eventually open more taphouses.

Matt points out labor and supply chain shortages will drive decisions for the near term, but the company is actually on track to double its revenue this year. His hope is to diversify geographically in the future.

To view the full luncheon video and more, Click here.