By Mark Saltveit
Football’s “Team Oregon” fell short in the college National Championship Game, but the economic version has a big tournament next month in Orange County. “Team Oregon” is the name of a coalition between Business Oregon, the state’s business development arm, and a number of local economic development officials, such as Chad Freeman, the President of SEDCOR. (SEDCOR is the Strategic Economic Development Corporation, which serves the mid-Willamette Valley area around Salem.) These partners work together to market the state’s business environment, identify sites for potential development, and recruit companies that might want to expand into Oregon.
Team Oregon and Oregon Bio to join forces
In February, the team will join Oregon Bioscience Association director Dennis McNannay at the Medical Device & Manufacturing (MD&M) West Conference in Anaheim, California. MD&M West, which bills itself as “America’s Largest MedTech Event,” is in its 30th year and will run from Feb. 12 – 15th, 2015.
For Team Oregon, though, the attraction is not the workshops or the keynote speakers (such as Amazon vice president Babak Parviz, Ph.D.) – it’s the hundreds of manufacturers and suppliers attending the conference. These companies need to be located somewhere and, hopefully, will need to expand somewhere as well. Team Oregon wants to encourage people to consider Oregon as that place.
Attracting medical device companies and manufacturing to Oregon
That all sounds great and cooperative. But this effort raises one basic question. Each of these local economic development officials wants these companies to move to their area. How can they work together? Aren’t they really competitors more than teammates?
Not so, according to Chad Freeman. “Realistically, our value proposition [in the Salem area] and Bend’s are very different. When companies expand, it’s usually a real estate decision or a business plan decision. Hillsboro and Salem are very different even though they’re only an hour apart.”
Attracting companies to Oregon is all about ethics and an understanding that “None of us has enough resources to do it all ourselves.” But if we work together, we can accomplish a lot.
“Part of what sets Oregon apart is that we work together. It’s not competition, it’s coop-etition. Gary Barth, Clackamas County’s Director of Business and Community Services, is the one who came up with that term.
Chad Freeman, President of SEDCOR
The focus of team Oregon
Team Oregon is focused on three of Oregon’s most competitive industries: high technology, advanced manufacturing and food processing. The Advanced Manufacturing team is the newest, formed last year after a successful pilot trip to the FABTECH metals fabrication trade show during November 2013 in Chicago.
The earlier groups focused on high technology and food processing. Members include Business Oregon, local economic development officials from the Portland Development Commission (PDC) to Union County, and private employers such as Portland General Electric.
The teams are organized through the Oregon Economic Development Association (OEDA), but are built on the “Oregon Bio” effort in 2006-8, a collaboration between the Oregon Bioscience Association, the State of Oregon, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and PDC that traveled to the MEDICA Medical Device Conference in Dusseldorf, Germany. That led to “Team Oregon – Clean Tech” from 2007-9, focused on the solar energy industry. Two years later, in 2011, OEDA stepped in and formed Team Oregon – Food Processing. They haven’t looked back since.
Oregon Bio’s goal for the MD&M West conference
The MD&M West conference is a major attraction for medical device and manufacturing companies and is an important event for Team Oregon and the Oregon Bioscience Association to attend.
“As the leading voice for Oregon’s Life Sciences industry, Oregon Bio is thrilled to be attending this year’s conference in support of Team Oregon’s efforts. Not only has Team Oregon brought together economic development leaders from around the state, but they have actively cultivated our support. From Redmond to Hillsboro, the attendees at MD&M are about to discover why Oregon is becoming a hot bed for bioscience.”
Dennis McNannay, Oregon Bioscience Association Executive Director
Mark Saltveit writes about health, technology and other interesting things. His latest book is “The Tao of Chip Kelly” (Diversion Books: 2013).