What began as our first national Thanksgiving on December 18, 1777, continues yet today, 244 years later. Officially recognized by President George Washington in 1789, Thanksgiving was moved to the last Thursday in November.
Being grateful is always in season and should you be busy right now preparing your turkey or ham dinner (or recovering from it) and do not have time to read this entire writing – please know that SOREDI is grateful for your ongoing membership support and partnership!
SOREDI staff, and members of our Executive Committee, had the opportunity to assemble in the Oval Office last week. We gathered to consider our roots as the region’s economic development agency, assess where we have been in its nearly 40-year history of coming together to what it is today, and plant new seeds for what our best future forward might be. Staff also picked their individual tree names ranging from Sycamore to Pine, Redwood, Fir, Birch and Dragon (yes, I had to query that one, too).
Speaking of trees, I am particularly grateful for the ancient bristlecone pine. I visited a bristlecone pine forest in Nevada and overnighted there in my trusty tent a few years ago. The Bristlecone Pine reminds me of the strong roots we have in this country, including the tradition of Thanksgiving and our many rights and freedoms to assemble and gather.
After walking the ancient forest loop trail, I purchased an “Advice from a Bristlecone Pine” tee shirt (pictured) from the gift stop. I’ve been sporting that tee shirt to the gym this week and revisited the profound wisdom scrolled across its front.
At our staff retreat, we talked a lot about our history and why SOREDI exists today as the region’s economic development agency. Like any business, we have had ups and downs, a few mergers, and at times a few moments of seriously taking a step back and asking ourselves why do we do that?
Given I just celebrated my 20th work anniversary this month, but all 5 staff members have between 2 and 22 months of service with SOREDI, it seemed prudent to visit our roots and take a walk down nostalgia lane. So, I reviewed a few historical documents.
SOREDI actually has its roots as Josephine County Economic Development Association (JCEDA) dating back to March 1992. At the same time, there was a similar association called the Medford/Jackson County Economic Development Council, operated as a department of the Greater Medford Chamber of Commerce. Around 1987 several private sector partners came together to collaborate around the idea that our region would be better served and more effective in response to recruitment leads with one regionally focused organization working on economic development. Thus, JCEDA became SOREDI, thanks to our founding fathers – Jackson and Josephine County and the two largest cities, Medford, and Grants Pass.
Yet there was another organization in the wings – the Southern Oregon Economic Development District (SOEDD) – who was federally designated by the US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, to manage a revolving loan fund and provide economic planning services. In 1994 SOEDD merged with SOREDI.
Today, SOREDI proudly carries on the work of operating revolving loan funds with currently about $2 million available to lend. Since 1994 we have lent over $21 million and impacted the creation and retention of 2,263 jobs! SOREDI is established to be a gap financer, and typically takes a second behind a bank or another lending institution, to help make a project work for the client. Read more here about our loan program.
Of course, SOREDI continues its core work, for which we were chartered, in visiting local companies, responding to relocation leads, administering various grant programs, and helping scalable start-up companies access capital. We might even “go out on a limb” as we are “wildly serious about business development.”
SOREDI Members will soon be receiving our most recently updated Economic Impact Brochure in the mail. But please feel free to take a peek now here: 2020/2021 Economic Impact Brochure.
I did say this already but am sincerely honored to say it again – thank you SOREDI members for your financial support. In 2002 – just 20 years into our history our membership revenues were just $155,000. Today, membership revenues are closer to $335,000.
Together do great things. Let’s celebrate with another piece of pumpkin pie!
Colleen Padilla, Executive Director
Tree Name: Sycamore
PS: I also have a wall hanging at home, Advice from a Moose. Visit all the Advice for Life collections, here: http://myadviceforlife.com