Visits COSI, Shielding, Aero Tanker

by: TOM BROWN - Kevin McCullough, co-owner of Erickson Aero Tanker, addresses participants during the EDCO tour of the company's business on April 16.A total of 80 people participated in a tour of several businesses at the Madras Industrial Site last Wednesday.

Sponsored by the Jefferson County Economic Development for Central Oregon Advisory Board, the tour was organized by Janet Brown, county EDCO manager.

Participants loaded into vans just after 8 a.m., toured Shielding International, Oregon Embroidery, Central Oregon Seed, Cascade Minerals, and Erickson Aero Tanker, where the tour concluded with the annual EDCO fundraising lunch.

Brown said that it was "a rare treat to tour these unique and exciting businesses, meet and visit with other business leaders and learn what products are made right here in our own back yard."

"Our focus is on industrial type businesses — the traded sector," she said. "That means that the business sells the majority of their product or services outside of Central Oregon."

Brown said that when she thinks of traded sector jobs, she thinks "product out, new money in and good jobs. Traded sector jobs also pay above minimum wage, they're full-time permanent jobs, and they include benefits."

Presenters on the tour included EDCO Advisory Board members Melanie Widmer (mayor of Madras), Mike Weber (managing partner of Central Oregon Seed and Cascade Minerals), and Rick Molitor (509-J superintendent), as well as Brown, and Kevin McCullough, co-owner of Erickson Aero Tanker.

Ashlyn Lofting Etter and Carol Locke conducted the tours at Shielding, Weber at Central Oregon Seed, Rich Affeldt at Cascade Minerals, and McCullough and Glen Newton at Erickson.

by: TOM BROWN - Several of Jack Erickson's collection of World War II aircraft are lined up behind participants in Jefferson County's Economic Development for Central Oregon tour on April 16. Kevin McCullough, co-owner of Erickson Aero Tanker, talks about the business to the group, which toured the Aero Tanker hangar.McCullough, of Scappoose, said he had no idea what to expect prior to the tour. "What I was impressed with was the number of participants and the good questions," he said.

"They were curious about the business and where we're going with the business," said McCullough.

Aero Tanker, which leases the former Butler Aircraft hangar at the Madras Municipal Airport, is developing a fleet of "next generation" air tankers for firefighting under contract with the U.S. Forest Service.

Aero Tanker owns seven MD-87s, three of which have already been converted to air tankers, and two DC-7s, which are under contract with the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Molitor, the vice chairman of the local EDCO Advisory Board, led a group of about 15, with some from Bend and Sisters. "The people were very surprised at the diversity of businesses at the airport," he said.

Molitor got involved with the EDCO group because he believes schools are directly linked to the local business community.

"The purpose of EDCO is to support businesses in partnership with the Education Council," he said. "EDCO is working with current businesses and encouraging businesses to locate in Jefferson County."

Participants were very engaged and encouraged by the positive activity they saw. "You get off (Highway) 97 and people are just impressed with what we have going on and what's happening," said Molitor.

"The neat thing was we had our local business managers and owners attending, but we also had a large number from out of the area, particularly Bend and Redmond," said Joe Krenowicz, executive director of the Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, and chairman of the advisory board.

Krenowicz said he heard many comment on the size of the Erickson Aero Tanker and Erickson museum projects, as well as the diversity of products produced at the Madras Industrial Site.

"The purpose of the tour is to let traded sector business leaders in Jefferson County know what the other traded sector businesses do and (let them) share ideas," said Brown. "I'd like to do this again and include Warm Springs and Culver."

"The luncheon's purpose was to not only gain more contributors to the local EDCO program, but to also give the annual report on what I've done the past year," said Brown, who explained that when people or businesses make contributions, they are collected by the county and distributed back to the Bend EDCO office which pays for the local office.

"All the money contributed in Jefferson County goes to a separate line item for the local program," she stressed.

Contract Publishing

Go to top