Southwest Oregon Region Receives WealthWorks Northwest Award

November, 2014
RDI is proud to announce the selection of Oregon’s southwest region, Coos, Curry, and Douglas counties, for the WealthWorks Northwest Construction award valued up to $375,000. The region is one of six WealthWorks Northwest (WWNW) pilots engaged in the exploration of a wealth creation value chain based on shared economic, social, and environmental values in which producers, processors, buyers, and others work together to create community wealth.
 
The WealthWorks Exploration process brought together numerous communities, organizations, and stakeholders throughout southwest Oregon and produced a new collaboration to address the region’s food system needs. The southwest Oregon value chain is a regional food infrastructure system, focusing on food protein products, with Roseburg-based NeighborWorks Umpqua acting as the coordinating agency.
 
The team chose to focus on protein-based products because of the region’s concentration of livestock producers and commercial fishers and the benefits to the livelihoods of local ranchers, fishermen, and the overall community. Fish and meat protein will be the anchor for success in the first two years of Construction.
 
The five regions not receiving full construction awards at this time will embark on a different path to advance their value chain development. These “byway” regions will have a number of available resources and support provided by RDI to continue on their path to wealth creation and get their value chains as investment-ready as possible. These regions and their value chains include:
  • North Coast (Clatsop, Tillamook, and Lincoln counties): Given the North Coast’s fishing and agricultural assets, the region explored a cold storage value chain that would serve both fishers and farmers by allowing them to store, process, and distribute products. Local cold storage facilities would create better access to wholesale markets and more efficient business practices.
  • Wheeler County: Developing a western juniper wood industry that complements rangeland restoration/juniper removal goals and supplies growing demand for environmentally friendly wood products would provide a number of wealth creation opportunities for Wheeler County. To advance this prospect, Wheeler County explored a western juniper-based value chain.
  • Central Oregon (Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson counties): To strengthen central Oregon’s local food system, the region explored a food hub value chain concept. A food hub would help aggregate and distribute local food products and assist local producers in meeting the region’s growing food demands.
  • Lake County: To create better access to healthy and local produce and create job opportunities, Lake County focused on a local food products value chain. Growing the local food system would help alleviate local food desert issues and provide more food choices in the region.
  • Northeast Oregon: Recognizing that the craft beer we drink is rarely local but instead routinely contains barley imported from Europe, Northeast Oregon explored a grain-based value chain. They especially focused on barley cultivation and malting to supply growing demand for local malted barley among craft breweries in eastern and central Oregon.
 
RDI is a partner in the growing national community of practice that is using the WealthWorks framework, led by Yellow Wood Associates and other national partners, to achieve measureable results on the ground. This integrative economic development approach seeks to leverage existing, or emerging, community assets and economic sectors to connect people, resources, and markets to generate community wealth in rural regions. The model is grounded on the premise that a value chain generates investments across all eight forms of capital—built, cultural, financial, individual, intellectual, natural, political, and social—and each form of capital is working to reinforce rather than undermine the others to create lasting rural livelihoods and communities. For more information about WealthWorks Northwest, contact Noelle Colby-Rotell, email: nrotell@rdiinc.org or phone: 208.954.9564.
 

Feeding chickens at B&K natural farm in Sutherlin.
 

Port Orford commercial fisherman Aaron Longton, F/V Golden Eye, holds up a big salmon caught off the Elk River.