More people should know what's 'Made in Crook County'
We all know about Facebook and its sprawling data center complex.
We likewise know that Apple is building its own massive data center across the highway.
But what about those other large businesses, ones that are creating products and sending them all over the country, or even the world? Can you name another company with a massive facility or a sprawling complex over multiple acres?
Perhaps Les Schwab Tires came to mind, and at one time you may have blurted out the name of one of Prineville's now defunct sawmills. Turns out you would have missed a couple places in town — and possibly more.
This past Friday, a group of about 40 business leaders, government officials and people interested in local economic development learned what two manufacturing companies are doing here in Prineville. They found out what is "Made in Crook County," the aptly titled name of the tour and program.
The names of the featured businesses are probably no secret to many – BTL Liners has been in town, right across from Facebook, for 11 years now, and Contact Industries is easy to spot as you head up the hill on North Main Street.
But does anyone really know what goes on there? Do they realize how large of an operation each company is, or how many miles away their products get shipped on a regular basis? Unless you have worked at one of the businesses, probably not. Let's put it this way — the people on that tour, whose interests are in economic development and business growth, left both places genuinely impressed and amazed.
They marveled at the fact that Contact Industries covers 82 acres and supplies many specialized wood-based products throughout the U.S., and worldwide. People found it hard to believe that the company has 25 positions they need filled, ASAP. Flies in the face of that whole narrative that there aren't enough jobs here, doesn't it?
Up the hill at BTL Liners, you have a company founded in Bend that grew and grew to a point where it had to leave and open a location in Prineville. Have many people given that much thought? A company actually leaving Bend to come to Prineville because it offers a better place to expand and increase business? Have many people looked inside the 84,000 square-foot space where employees prepare liners of all kinds for shipping nationwide and beyond?
Roger Lee, who leads Economic Development for Central Oregon, hopes to continue this showcase in Prineville in future years. He wants more people to know how much is happening in this town. Furthermore, he wants the local youth and schools to know about it. He wants schools and students to play a role in future Made in Crook County events.
This is an excellent idea, and to take it a step further, residents should find a way to participate. They, too, should know what is happening, as Lee puts it, "right in their own back yard."
Facebook and Apple get the publicity, but a lot more is happening here, and thankfully, some of that veil was lifted this past Friday. Hopefully, the program keeps going and people learn about others. People should not only know about local success stories, they should be aware of the opportunities offered in their home community.