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What are the top three priorities for Bend’s future?

Compass Commercial Partner, Darren Powderly, CCIM recently made the rounds as a featured speaker at several high profile business events in Bend. At the Bend Chamber’s town hall panel discussion held at Volcanic Theater Pub last month, Powderly shared the stage with Robert Kieffer (Facebook), Todd Taylor (President, Taylor NW) and Jim Coonan (EDCO Bend Venture Catalyst Manager) to talk about their vision for Bend’s future success and what they identify as key priorities to drive the region’s economic growth.

Powderly’s key priorities to drive Bend’s economic growth are what he coined, The Three S’sStudents, Start-ups and Sustainability. Below he provides a summary of his vision:

My Top Three Priorities for Bend’s Future – Students, Start-ups and Sustainability

By Darren Powderly, CCIM

Investing in Students is my #1 priority given the critical importance that high-quality education serves in any community. As a father of two primary school aged children, I understand the importance of providing my kids with the best possible education available. The Bend-LaPine School District offers an outstanding level of education, yet there is more work to be done to ensure that our kids can compete with other kids around the globe. Thankfully, the local community supports our public schools and invests heavily in new facilities, teachers, programs, technology and overall care. Quality of K-12 public schools and higher education are top priorities for business leaders when evaluating cities for their companies.

The OSU-Cascades campus is the optimal short-term opportunity we have as a community to improve our quality of life and economic diversity. Universities attract smart people who start or attract companies that produce jobs. My partners and I at Compass served as the real estate consultants for OSU-Cascades and helped them evaluate the various four-year university campus locations in Bend. We also donated $25,000 to the cause. We did so because we believe it’s critical for Bend to have a strong higher education presence in order to compete for the high-paying jobs that every other city in America is aggressively competing for. Thanks in part to the success of COCC in Bend, OSU-Cascades was able to grow their student body to 938 students for the Fall Semester in 2013. By 2025, OSU-Cascades will have 5,000 students enrolled. That’s smart growth!

My second priority is Startups. According to the Kauffman Foundation, net job growth in the U.S. economy occurs through startup firms. I’m talking not only about technology startups, but also about startups in all industries. Thanks to the excellent work of many hard working entrepreneurs and supportive community leaders, there’s a burgeoning startup community in Bend where entrepreneurs can access funding, mentorship, education and other infrastructure. As a community, we need to invest in startups because entrepreneurs make job creation happen.

My third priority is Sustainability. Most of us moved to Bend by choice because we wanted a higher quality of life than what was available elsewhere. An important element of quality of life is a steady supply of high paying jobs in a broad range of industries. However, we don’t want growth for the sake of growth and to turn Bend into another poorly planned, overcrowded and financially strapped city. We need a master plan that balances smart growth with quality of life. The Bend 2030 organization is doing great work to craft a vision for Bend that reflects our community core values. I encourage you to get involved and make a positive impact on our future.  Thanks for making Bend the best place to live in the U.S.

Darren Powderly, CCIM is a Partner with Compass Commercial Real Estate Services. He is also a Co-Founder of CrowdStreet, an equity crowdfunding platform connecting accredited investors with high-quality commercial real estate investments.  He will be speaking at the Bend Chamber’s RE Forecast Breakfast next month.  You can find more details on how to register for the event here.