Notes from Colleen’s Desk: Community Building in Progress

Community is certainly a buzz word these days in all my circles – personal and professional. It’s more than just a noun as in describing the geographical boundaries and characteristics of the neighborhood or town we live in. It is more than simply a verb that conveys how multiple people or agencies are coming together, building community around a particular issue – such as rebuilding and restoring our economy following the Almeda Fire.

It is about building unity and collaboration of course, but also one of bonding in ways we may have not imagined before. We are not created to be isolation but designed to be in relationship with one another.

For me, I am beginning to think of community more like a pervasive spirit of being and doing something. Like life itself.

I happen to facilitate one of many weekly community groups within my church – which we often also refer to as life groups. Over the last several weeks I have come to appreciate multiple budding friendships that have broadened my life perspective and even gently corrected some harmful self-assessments I was making.

There are no big aha moments here for me as I write, just increased self-reflection and greater respect for every opinion, point of view, and idea presented over the last year as we continue to walk through the ongoing impacts of two disasters within our region. I may disagree with some or many suggestions and approaches made, but whole-heartedly know how important it is to pause and listen to one another.

I have learned so much over the course of the last six months – and nearly twenty years with SOREDI. I have been introduced to some new faces along the way. I am inspired by so many remarkable people, even though I have yet to personally meet most of these newer acquaintances.

That same listening ear is fundamental to the mission here at SOREDI. We are a business development organization in its 34th year of service and we are all about hearing the needs, the concerns and hopefully, on a growing number of occasions, the praises respective to a job well done. We see budding friendships and broadening perspectives as we do our part in helping businesses recover, rebuild and become more resilient moving forward.

We are grateful to announce the addition of a Business Disaster Recovery and Resiliency Liaison, Terrill Roper, to the SOREDI staff effective April 1.  In this position, Terrill we be on the ground in the south Rogue Valley reaching out to businesses that have suffered devastating loss and economic impacts following the devastating wildfires.

This position will be funded in part by the Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration through a technical assistance grant. SOREDI board leadership unanimously approved matching funds for this critical position at its February meeting using reserves on hand, as we recognized that we just aren’t willing to wait another day. We are ready to meet businesses (with social distancing protocol in place as may be necessary) to hear needs, understand constraints, and help find resources.

Speaking of community building, we are working together with the City of Phoenix to be physically present one day a week in its civic center in the heart of the burn scar over a period of several months to make it a bit easier on businesses to interact with us. And not just with SOREDI, but with various other business-focused agencies and partners like Business Oregon, United Rotary, Energy Trust of Oregon, and utility providers.

Moreover, we are pleased to announce that our annual SOREDI business dinner is tentatively planned to be at the Blue Heron Park in Phoenix on June 30. Think of it like a family reunion. Please watch for details as we await and confirm plans pending any changes in pandemic protocols for outdoor venues.

We also whole-heartedly know that community building – whether it is a noun, verb, or spirit – is essential to attracting (and retaining) new and expanding companies, along with skilled professionals to our region leading to economic vitality for all. There is ample research to support that community spirit – encapsulated by great places and faces, and supported by business-friendly policies, make a region irresistibly attractive to new investments – whether personal or professional.

This is our SOREDI charter – to help businesses launch relocate and prosper.   We are better poised to serve this region than any time before in SOREDI history. Many thanks to the nearly 200 SOREDI members, including all 15 jurisdictions, who make it possible for us to serve every beautifully unique community every day.

If you are a business impacted by the fires in the Rogue Valley, or know a business that has been impacted, there is no need to wait. Please write me today and I assure you that a SOREDI business development manager will be in touch with you immediately. Thank you.



Colleen Padilla, Executive Director


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