FOOD AND BEVERAGE SECTOR STRATEGY
As a participating member of the Lane County Sector Strategy Team, the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce is the lead on the Food and Beverage Sector Strategy. The goal of the strategy is to create an achievable action plan with the food and beverage industry to support and grow the industry the next 3 to 5 years. The sector identified six top areas of focus:
- Develop shared resources for local industry to help start-up businesses, keep and grow existing businesses, and attract new businesses.
- Create awareness and recognition through coordinated branding efforts.
- Build a stronger workforce — aligning curriculum at local high schools and colleges; raise awareness of food and beverage careers.
- Smooth utility costs — increase awareness of utility assistance programs and utility costs.
- Streamline regulations and permitting.
- Increase collaboration across the industry.
Over the past six months, 44 people from 27 organizations have been working on the areas identified above. Progress so far includes:
- Working to dedicate a full-time position to support the food and beverage sector
- Scheduling a food and beverage specific BOLI Employment Law Update Seminar
- Exploring a shared employee structure
- Smoothing utility costs through EWEB’s Business Growth and Retention Program
- Rethinking wastewater calculations through inline metering
- Gaining agency commitment to streamline the permitting and regulation process
- Creating a structure to increase collaboration
- Promoting the sector through Travel Lane County’s culinary tourism videos and in-flight advertisements
- Creating the Willamette Valley Grown and Crafted Brand – this effort has been underway since 2012 and was led by the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition and the Willamette Valley Sustainable Foods Alliance
For more information on the key initiatives of the Food and Beverage Collaborative, view the Lane County Food and Beverage Collaborative Strategic Plan.
Why focus on Food and Beverage? Here’s why…
Lane County is home to over 138 food and beverage companies, which employ over 3,300 people, bringing over $131 million dollars in wages to the area. The Food and Beverage Sector in Lane County is projected to grow by 444 additional jobs by the year 2024 for a 13.2% growth rate. An additional 843 jobs will need to be replaced by that time. In 2015, the Lane County average annual wage in the Food and Beverage Sector was $42,293 compared to $40,802 for all industries. Educational requirements for the Food and Beverage Sector are relatively low. Nine out of the 10 of the largest occupations require a high school diploma or less, yet employers in the industry report having difficulty hiring and keeping workers.