May 21, 2014
by ROLAND WHITE CBN Feature Writer
Four keynote speakers and six Redmond companies were showcased at Redmond Economic Development Inc., (REDI) luncheon May 14 to demonstrate the region's impact and success in creating a workforce for global manufacturing. Along with introductions by President Connie Druliner and REDI Manager Jon Stark, Redmond City Manager Keith WItcosky facilitated the discussion.
Stark briefly reported on several of Redmond’s success’s with updates for business startups and expansions. Those mentioned were the CTE Revitalization Grant from ODE to Redmond High School for $474,955, the expansion of Precision Castparts, Consumer Cellular’s success as top job creator, BaseX Solutions locating in Redmond creating 100 plus new jobs, improvements at COCC’s Manufacturing and Applied Technology Center, American Airlines startup of RDM and LAX and the opening of Redmond’s new brewery, Wild Ride Brewery.
A knowledgeable and diverse panel of speakers included Keith Covlin manager of PCC Scholsser, Rich Gilbert manager Chase Doors, Damon Runberg regional economist Oregon Employment Department and Redmond High School Principal Dr. Nicole MacTavish.
CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION
A high point for the region and specifically Redmond High School (RHS) is the grant application Dr. MacTavish applied for and was awarded for $474,955 through the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Revitalization Grant by the Oregon Department of Education and the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI).
RHS was awarded the largest grant in Central Oregon with all CTE Grants totaling $8.87 million to programs throughout Oregon. The CTE Revitalization Grant funds will benefit students, schools and local employers in Central Oregon in advanced manufacturing, construction, engineering and applied technology education.
Dr. MacTavish partnered with REDI, local industry partners and Runberg who provided the economic trending data to assess what was needed to enhance the educational opportunities for the community, education and industry. The research provided by Runberg and local partners pointed out that manufacturing and applied technology were the most important areas to pursue.
Dr. MacTavish remarked, “We had identified potential partners for this project and called them into the high school to identify the skill sets we needed, the jobs that are currently high wage and what jobs that were not being filled from the local workforce and how we could supply that labor and possibly partner with COCC to provide that workforce. We then assessed the skill sets required, what it would need from of us to train that workforce, what type of equipment, facilities and instructors were needed and included the economic data showing the trending to manufacturing in our region.”
The programs being developed as a result of this grant are numerous for the educational system, regional economics and the continuing trends in the region for a diverse educated well-trained manufacturing and applied technology workforce.
On the educational front Dr. MacTavish explained, “Looking at the economic data it became clear that all the opportunities were not just for four year entry points, but there was a school to work entry point, a technical two year degree entry point or certificate and a four year entry point…so we have established three different career paths. The first is a school to work career path which is a list of skills that will allow a student to enter a workspace and immediately be able to work with some basic skills i.e. machining, CAC programming and CAD drawings.
“Other skills needed are the soft skills in math and language to articulate ideas. Upon successful completion of this program that includes an internship in the workspace the student receives the Redmond Certificate of Manufacturing Proficiency, (RCOMP). With this certificate a student is guaranteed an interview with the local industry partners that are participating with the school to work concept.
“The second program is within COCC’s AA program that includes training at the Manufacturing and Applied Technology Center and upon completion the student is awarded a MATCH Certificate along with their AA degree. This program can work in partnership with the Expanded Options program that is called The Advanced Diploma Option that allows students a fifth year of high school to take college credit classes at minimal costs and to graduate with many of the AA class credits.”
These programs will officially start in the fall as the first six months of the grant are to get it established, equipment purchased and facilities scheduled.
The third career path is a partnership with Oregon Technology Institute, (OTI) to allow students who have earned their COCC, AA Degree and MATCH or RCOMP certificates to successfully transfer their credits to the four year OTI as a junior reducing their overall costs for a four year education.
Stark commented, “Revitalizing Career and Technical Training at RHS is important to Redmond’s future. Partnering between the public and private sector—including nearly a dozen Redmond companies—made this a successful grant application and will ensure its success going forward.”
SCHOOL TO WORK
Local manufacturing company PCC Scholsser has already experienced the benefits of these educational opportunities. Covlin (manager of PCC Scholsser), commented, “We’re very pleased with working with the COCC here in Redmond and the Manufacturing and Applied Technology Center program. They have a strong curriculum in welding and machining. We have hired graduates from their program and are looking forward to the Non Destructible Testing (NDT) curriculum, which will be critical for hiring employees in the whole aerospace manufacturing sector in Central Oregon.”
Economist Runberg adds, “I’m in a unique position where I can dig down pretty deep in employment trends…about a year ago I did an article on Redmond’s manufacturing sector to see what has been going on there…and found some exciting trends that were occurring. In the past it’s been recognized that Redmond has been dependent on the wood products industry but we have seen a huge diversification in manufacturing which allows us to weather the storm with more diverse industry which means we need more diverse skills.
“So the work the education sector is doing right now is phenomenal in filling that gap, especially for young folks which our statistics are showing in Oregon are working at some of the lowest levels ever recorded…so this is incentivizing the younger folks to find work very soon after high school and its creating different career tracks to get into the work force right away.”
Between 2008 and 2012 Redmond generated nearly 19 million in Capital Investment. In 2014 Redmond nearly achieved that amount generating 14.5 million in Capital Investment and creating 168 jobs.
Manufacturing jobs are high paying with an average of $43,000 per year compared to $37,000 for all industries in Deschutes County.
Redmond employs about 25 percent of the manufacturing workforce in Deschutes County. Redmond’s manufacturing sector grew 9 percent outpacing Deschutes County’s growth of 5.6 percent and employs nearly 1,000 workers with an approximate $40 million annual payroll.
Redmond has developed a diverse manufacturing climate with products that range from metal and wood fabrication to computer and electronic parts to transportation equipment. Employment numbers are reported as primary and fabricated metal 269, wood products 171 and computer and electronic manufacturing 99.
REDI assisted a 142 companies in 2013 experiencing a 30 percent growth. They have completed a three year strategic plan. Pending projects include 26 companies with potential for 811 jobs and creation of 99.5 million in capital investment.
The six companies highlighted for their manufacturing excellence on a global scale were PCC Scholsser, Chase Doors, Light Elegance/McConnell Labs, Smith Brothers Pushrods, Mountain High Oxygen and Fuel Safe Racing Cells. Combined these companies have business relations and international clients with over a hundred countries.