Food and Beverage Sector Strategies is led by Micah Elconin of Season to Taste Inc.  Efforts include collaborative development projects, promotion of products and values, and creating opportunities to share knowledge and resources to solidify Lane County as a hub for diverse food and beverage companies.

Food and Beverage Sector Strategy Goals:

  1. Develop shared resources to attract, retain and grow local businesses.
  2. Create positive awareness and recognition through coordinated branding efforts.
  3. Build a stronger workforce — aligning curriculum at local high schools and colleges; raise awareness of food and beverage careers.
  4. Smooth utility costs — increase awareness of utility assistance programs and utility costs.
  5. Streamline regulations and permitting.
  6. Increase collaboration across the industry.

Over the past two years, 25 industry members alongside dozens of economic development support organizations have worked together to create substantial value for the Lane County food and beverage sector including:

  • Quarterly Food Business Unpacked events attracting hundreds of people from all over Oregon
  • University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business launches Business fo Food course and showcases 30 companies at Business Careers in Food Day.
  • Lane Community College begins developing 2 year food and beverage manufacturing program.
  • Eugene Regional Accelerator awarded state funding to design Southern Willamette Food Business Development Center
  • Hundreds of local middle school students toured local food and beverage companies each year during Manufacturing Day
  • Eugene recruits 2020 Wine and Tourism Conference
  • Community LendingWorks provided $729k in financing to 17 emerging companies
  • City of Eugene provided over $1m in financing to 5 companies
  • Southern Willamette Food Trail launched in April 2019

Updates on events, opportunities, and stories for Lane County food and beverage companies available here

Why focus on Food and Beverage?  Here’s why…

Lane County is home to over 172 food and beverage companies, which employ over 4,078 people, bringing over $185 million dollars in wages to the area.  Going forward, the sector is expected to add 795 additional jobs by 2027 for a 20% growth rate, compared to 11% for all industries.  In addition, there are expected to be 4,711 replacement openings.  Total job openings will reach 5,506 over the 10-year period.  In 2017, the Lane County average annual wage in the Food and Beverage Sector was $44,659 compared to $42,644 for all industries. Educational requirements for the Food and Beverage Sector are relatively low. 13 out of the 15 of the largest occupations require a high school diploma or less, yet employers in the industry report having difficulty hiring and keeping workers.

Micah Elconin, Food and Beverage Sector Leader