To propel entrepreneurship, innovation and ongoing prosperity, the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District (MCEDD) recently completed a Regional Innovation Hub plan to assess how the region can better serve innovators and especially traded-sector businesses. Funded by a grant from Business Oregon, MCEDD contracted with ECONorthwest over the past year to work with a team of regional partners in developing the plan. The final report was released in October.
In this report, the forces generating rapid economic development in the Mid-Columbia Region across diverse sectors were analyzed. The region’s advantageous geographic location and climate support both traditional and innovative agricultural activities. Key sectors such as unmanned aerial systems, healthcare, fermentation, value-added agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism have all grown. Some of the challenges to nurturing this ongoing growth have been identified as a lack of local investment capital, a shifting climate, and limited industrial and commercial land.
The Hub will directly tackle the identified challenges by cultivating a collaborative culture amongst entrepreneurs, showcasing the region’s assets to potential investors, strengthening connections to statewide resources, and linking to venture capital providers. It will also reinforce partners that are best positioned to broaden the resources and support for local businesses. The next step will be to seek implementation funding from Business Oregon and others to address the gaps, primarily through new positions at MCEDD, that will be focused on this work. The outcome would not be a physical space but rather individuals who can better connect innovators with resources.