When someone is thinking about moving to Bend, they often ask me “What do people do for a living?” Central Oregon has a more diverse economy than you might expect. According to the group Economic Development of Central Oregon (EDCO), the top industries include government, private health and education, and leisure and hospitality. Some of the region’s top employers include St. Charles Medical Center, Bend Memorial Clinic, Bend La Pine School District, Les Schwab Tire Center, Brightwood Corporation, TRG Customer Solutions, Bend Broadband, Deschutes Brewery, Mt. Bachelor, and Bend Research.
It’s also true that Bend is powered by small businesses and energetic entrepreneurs. Central Oregon’s businesses are typified by innovative, small companies producing niche-market products and services, from semi-conductors to software, medical instruments to recreational equipment. Of the estimated 10,000 business establishments in Central Oregon, roughly 65% have four employees or less. Over the past decade, Deschutes County has led Oregon in high technology growth (over 270%). Entrepreneur Magazine called Bend “the most entrepreneurial city in America”, and a Kauffman Foundation study reported Bend as having one of the highest startup densities in the nation.
My husband is heavily involved in the startup community in Central Oregon. He started his own product development company and recently became Co-Founder of JettStream, a medical device startup company in Bend. He can confirm that Bend has what an entrepreneur needs to grow their company. Some of the resources available include Founders Pad, Tech Alliance, Startup Weekend, Pub Talk, and the Bend Venture Conference. There’s even a new EDCO website devoted to the Technology Startup Company.
If you’re considering moving to Bend and you’ve been wondering what type of employment is available, I hope this has been helpful. There really is a lot of diversity in the business sector and I’m confident you will find your niche. Or, you could do what a lot of Bend locals do… make your own!