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KCEDA Receives Several New Commitments From Local Stakeholders

The Klamath County Economic Development Association (KCEDA) has recently received commitments from Cascade Comprehensive Care, Oregon Institute of Technology, Klamath Community College, Sky Lakes Medical Center, Fisher Nicholson Realty, and Coldwell Banker to become Principal Members of the organization.

Each organization has agreed to upgrade their existing memberships in support of the direction KCEDA is taking with its operations under the new leadership of CEO, Randy Cox. In 2015, KCEDA implemented a model where all participants have “skin in the game” as a way to structure fundraising for the organization that encouraged engagement between Klamath's private and public sectors. Since KCEDA adopted this model, it has helped the organization expand the services it offers and resources it has available to address projects. The announcement of these organizations’ commitment to increasing their KCEDA contributions comes one month into Cox's appointment as CEO of the economic development agency. In that time, Cox and the rest of the KCEDA team have begun work on optimizing their operations and crafting the organization's new strategic plan around core focuses, work that appears to be earning serious attention from the many major stakeholders that agreed to participate at the Principal Membership level.

Oregon Tech president, Dr. Nagi Naganathan, has led his executive team and the university in a deeper level of engagement with KCEDA since he began his leadership there. This has allowed Oregon Tech to gain a deeper understanding of KCEDA's program and be involved in the strategic discussions surrounding ways to enhance KCEDA and the Klamath region as it moves forward. Speaking on behalf of the university, Naganathan discussed the school's inspiration for increasing their commitment, stating, “At Oregon Tech we recognize that we will not be strong without a strong and thriving Klamath Falls and vice-versa. KCEDA continues to focus on building a strong economy in our county and has recognized this is closely linked to developing talented and highly skilled professionals. We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with KCEDA and helping to ensure robust economic development in Klamath County.”

KCEDA works closely with higher education institutions to help the schools generate talent that can benefit local employers, appeal to incoming employers, and stimulate entrepreneurship in the basin. An example of this is the work they do with Klamath Community College (KCC) around customizing curriculum to provide students with education fields that have high demand. KCC’s impact on Klamath’s economic health cannot be understated, and as KCEDA moves into its next program phase, the organization sees exciting avenues they can pursue with their partners at the community college that can help effectively drive Klamath’s economic development efforts.

Also an executive committee member of KCEDA, KCC President, Roberto Gutierrez, commented on his desires for the college to play a bigger role with the development agency, saying, “KCC is working hard to develop degree programs that fill immediate workforce needs, and in doing so, we are preparing for a strong economic future. Developing a well-educated and trained workforce in the Klamath Basin will attract new business and industry that pay living-wage salaries” said Gutierrez. “The KCC partnership with KCEDA will help our community reach those goals.”

Representing a portion of upgraded commitments from the real estate community is Debra Gisriel of Fisher Nicholson Realty. Having been involved with the organization for several years, Gisriel believes strongly in KCEDA's mission and is particularly pleased to see that the economic development company is positioning itself to get more involved with efforts that address Klamath's blighted homes and housing shortage. Speaking to the importance of tackling housing issues and the more active role KCEDA is taking to help Klamath overcome such issues, Gisriel stated, “Economic development in our community relies on having access to available housing. I am pleased to put these funds to good use through KCEDA, and work closely with their team to strategically address this issue.”

In the time since their restructuring, KCEDA has been involved in several different projects that include numerous local stakeholders. In this work, the organization has frequently rediscovered that community health and creating a strong economy are closely linked. Considering this, KCEDA firmly believes strong partnerships with the medical sector as being pivotal to elevating Klamath’s economic position. Establishing Principal commitments, KCEDA is pleased to see that health care providers Sky Lakes and Cascade Comprehensive Care (CCC) share that same belief.

Both companies look forward to deepening their relationship with KCEDA, expressing a keen interest to work with the organization on efforts that can both improve community health and Klamath’s economic performance.
Tayo Akins, President & CEO of Cascade Comprehensive Care, talked about CCC’s new commitment to KCEDA, saying, “We believe that economic development and better health go hand in hand. Health is wealth and wealth is part of economic development. When new companies move into Klamath County, they want a healthy workforce and CCC and their healthcare providers are doing everything possible to improve the health of our community. By
improving health and developing job opportunities we take care of two very dominant social determinants of health.” Cascade Health Alliance (“CHA”), a wholly owned subsidiary of CCC, serves over 18,000 Medicaid members in the region, and has expanded the way it thinks about serving its clients, where in recent years, the company has been reinvesting into the community by contributing to projects that help establish healthier environments across Klamath. CCC also serves approximately 4,000 Medicare members through its partnership with ATRIO Health Plans.

Sky Lakes President and CEO Paul Stewart has been an enthusiastic proponent of this same approach to patient care, where the hospital has placed an emphasis on integrating wellness and prevention services into the community that encourages healthier choices. These efforts have helped generate some exciting things in Klamath that include:
Sky Lakes President and CEO Paul Stewart has been an enthusiastic proponent of this same
approach to patient care, where the hospital has placed a major emphasis on integrating
wellness and prevention services into the community that encourage healthier choices.

These efforts have helped generate some exciting things in Klamath that include:
• Establishing the Live Young Wellness Center, a clinic that focuses on lifestyle changes to help people be healthier;
• Building and enhancing parks and trails to make getting out and moving more easier; creating the Sky Lakes Outpatient Care Management Department, which helps clients with individualized health-improvement plans;
• Providing resources – financial as well as dozens of volunteers – to ensure the success of the Blue Zones Project in Klamath Falls; 

• Helping people become healthier by breaking the cycle of poverty with worthwhile employment using skills gained in the Klamath Works program;
• Improving access to care by actively recruiting new providers, including physicians training at Cascades East Family Medicine on the Sky Lakes campus; and
• Leveraging a partnership with OHSU to expand the influence of the Rural Health Campus in Oregon, which will be housed in the new $50 million Sky Lakes Collaborative Health Center going up near the medical center.

Speaking about the hospital’s increased commitment to KCEDA and what he sees as major economic opportunities for the area, Stewart says, “It may seem counterintuitive, but, while we continue to deliver top-notch care, we are striving to create in our community a system that keeps people well. We’re doing this by encouraging them to be more physically active, to make better nutrition choices, to not smoke, and, if they drink alcohol, to do so in moderation. Sky Lakes is working with our partners towards having a community where the healthy choice is the easy choice, and where we can all enjoy a ‘culture of health. It is my sincere belief that a community that actively demonstrates its commitment to health is also well-positioned for sustained economic vitality.”

Andrew Stork, KCEDA's Operations Manager, originally joined the organization when it first implemented its new revenue model in 2015, where at the time, the organization added nearly 30 new employers to the KCEDA membership. Having been part of the company since that time, Stork notes the organization had slower membership growth from the private sector in the time since then, however, sees these most recent Principal commitments to have a spirit consistent with the original surge that occurred 3 years ago. Looking at what these Principal upgrades mean to KCEDA, Stork suggests a combination of factors are generating an excitement about where the organization is headed, finding that positive strategic planning talks and the talents of Randy Cox are major factors.

Stork "Prior to Randy's hiring, when the CEO seat was vacant, our staff and members used that time as an opportunity to really examine where we want the organization to go in its next phases. Since his first day, Randy has brought a lot of energy, expertise, and fresh ideas to the table that are immediately helping us be better coordinated, therefore helping us be more effective with addressing our economic objectives. To achieve any of our aspirations with the next phase of the organization, it is essential for KCEDA to have strong relationships with our area's stakeholders. These companies new Principal Memberships really validate their belief in KCEDA and a desire to be strong partners on enhancing the Klamath product. We are tremendously grateful for this support."

Beyond these upgraded commitments of existing members, KCEDA has been meeting with several businesses about joining the organization, where early signs show employers are embracing the direction the organization is taking, having added over 10 new members in the last four weeks. Randy Cox, the organization’s CEO, commented on the high level of community engagement saying, “Choose Klamath (KCEDA) is excited and enthusiastic with the support shown by the Principal Membership and all the new members we have recently added. This support validates the initiatives being driven in our organization to leverage Klamath’s unique and unparalleled assets through the recruitment of new businesses, retention, and expansion of existing businesses, and developing entrepreneurship within Klamath County.”

KCEDA will continue to be active in meeting with businesses for potential membership as it seeks to build out more relationships with private sector partners. This new membership drive will allow for the organization to gain extensive perspective that speaks to the larger vision of Klamath's business community when working on development endeavors, as well give them more offerings for our clients to utilize local resources. If you are interested in becoming a member or would just like to learn more about KCEDA, contact their staff (541-882-9600) or visit their website, ChooseKlamath.com.

About the Klamath County Economic Development Association (KCEDA)
Since 1975, KCEDA has reflected the best of private enterprise, responsibility, and dedication. Its mission is to provide tailored recruitment and retention/expansion programs, new opportunities for jobs, and a diversified, value-added industrial base/expanded economic development climate in southern Oregon.

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