Contributed by Now for Bend, a community coalition supporting OSU-Cascades Westside campus.
Plans for the expansion of OSU-Cascades on Bend’s west side are moving forward with strong support from local supporters and advocates. However, this week marks another critical point for OSU-Cascades, as Oregon state legislators review $2 million in funding for the university’s proposed Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (House Bill 5030) and a transportation system providing access to the west side campus (Senate Bill 5525).
Now for Bend, a community coalition of private citizens, businesses, and civic organizations, is asking supporters to contact their legislators and encourage them to approve both bills before the legislature adjourns next week on June 30.
Guided by co-coordinators Janie Teater and Amy Tykeson, the coalition has been successful in catalyzing widespread support for the urban-integrated campus. Now for Bend supporters view the campus as imperative to creating a stable, diverse economy – one that generates professional jobs, supports business growth, and encourages innovation.
“This region has all the elements in place for long term success,” says Tykeson. “The missing piece is a four-year university. We have to prepare a skilled workforce to meet the needs of businesses, with opportunities for both degrees and ongoing professional development.”
It is well known that expanding Central Oregon companies and startups are facing recruitment challenges when filling available positions from the local talent pool. Many of those businesses have joined forces with Now for Bend to support the university’s expansion, and are partnering with OSU-Cascades to develop academic programs to match to career opportunities and address their long term workforce needs.
If the legislature approves funding for OSU’s Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship, the center would complement Bend’s rich startup community including organizations such as the Bend Venture Conference, FoundersPad and the Cascade Angels fund.
Local entrepreneurs believe the Center would create a nexus of innovation, ideas, training and mentorship between students, professors and businesses.
“There are so many exciting possibilities ahead of us,” says Now for Bend’s Janie Teater. “The Innovation Center is just the beginning of a creative collaboration between the university and local businesses. But to make it a reality, we have to get out there and support what OSU-Cascades is trying to accomplish.”
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