The City of Bend graces the Banks of the Deschutes River, which is draped like a silver ribbon between the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountain Range and the high desert plateaus of Oregon’s central interior. Originally a small mill town, Bend has emerged into a full service city and Oregon’s fastest growing high technology area.
Around the turn of the 20th century, trappers, ranchers, and loggers carved out a living near the town that eventually became the Deschutes County Seat. Then as now, Bend is the commercial, retail, and service center for a region that nearly stretches from the Washington State line to the California border. With the arrival of a rail line to Bend in 1911, lumber and agricultural products could be economically shipped to outside markets.
By the 1920’s three mills operated by Shevlin-Hixon and two operated by Brooks-Scanlon dominated the local economy and brought significant population and employment growth. By the 1950’s, timber resources began to show signs of strain, when Shevlin-Hixon closed all three mills and sold its Central Oregon holdings to Brooks-Scanlon. In an effort to better utilize the declining supply of wood fiber, timber companies diversified into moldings, particleboard and plywood manufacturing during the 1960s and 70s.
In the early 1980’s the community hit an economic low point with nearly a quarter of the workforce unemployed. About this time community leaders pursued tourism development as an additional leg to its economic foundation and as a tool for broader diversification efforts. Success of this strategy has been felt through the 1990s as the community attracted new investment in nearly all sectors, and through a solid “critical mass” of quality amenities for both residents and visitors, has also built an industry presence in computer software and hardware, medical equipment, aerospace, and recreation equipment manufacturing.
Provided by: Economic Development For Central Oregon