Local Food and Beverage Business Hub to Launch
RAIN Eugene Funded to Begin Work on Southern Willamette Valley Food Business Development Center
Business Oregon has awarded RAIN Eugene a $59,537 High Impact Opportunity Project Grant to begin designing the Southern Willamette Valley Food Business Development Center. The proposed center provides greater access to food testing, product design services, business development support, and capital to help scale and sustain traded-sector food and beverage manufacturing companies.
Micah Elconin, Lane Food and Beverage Sector Strategist, is collaborating with RAIN Eugene on the project. Elconin leads collaborative development projects, promotes the region’s products, and coordinates opportunities to share knowledge and resources for local industry. “This is an incredible opportunity to solidify the greater Eugene area as a hub for diverse food and beverage companies. This center allows us to fully realize the potential for collaborative relationships between industry members, private sector partners, universities, and economic development organizations.”
Oregon State’s Food Innovation Center is one of these key collaborators. The Portland-based center provides a large assortment of food testing and product development services. The Food Business Development Center will help amplify the Food Innovation Center’s expertise by creating a Southern Willamette Valley hub for more food and beverage companies to access the Food Innovation Center’s product development services. David Stone, Director of the Food Innovation Center says, “We are excited to work with RAIN Eugene and create more connectivity with the incredible food and beverage companies throughout the Southern Willamette Valley.” The outcome will be a stronger network of support for a diverse group of businesses up and down the I5 corridor that leverages the success of established organizations and accelerates the growth of food and beverage companies across the state.
Due to its proximity near fertile farmland and direct access to the population centers along Interstate Highway 5, an incredible amount of food and beverage manufacturing occurs in the Southern Willamette Valley. Lane County alone is home to over 165 food and beverage manufacturing companies that employ more than 4,000 people, bringing over $179 million dollars in income to the area. By most estimates, Lane County food and beverage manufacturing creates over one billion dollars in local economic activity each year.
RAIN Eugene connects the local innovation ecosystem surrounding the University of Oregon and the cities of Eugene and Springfield with the entrepreneurial community to create high impact, innovative, traded-sector companies that can grow and thrive in our community. RAIN Eugene is one of the key resources for food and beverage companies in the Southern Willamette Valley. Through its outreach efforts, RAIN Eugene’s team of mentors has connected with well over 100 different food and beverage entrepreneurs and business leaders since its inception. Lead Mentor in Residence, Shane Johnson built his career in the tech industry but has taken a particular interest in food and beverage companies. “These businesses are incredible community economic development engines. They add permanent infrastructure, support local supply chains and often create gathering spaces for people to meet and enjoy delicious food and drink.”