In 2017, The Lane Sector Strategy Team began to focus on the food and beverage manufacturing industry. Season to Taste, Inc. was contracted to lead Food and Beverage Sector Strategies. The firm quickly recruited an advisory board of 25 local business leaders in the food and beverage industry, who have guided work to solidify the area as a food and beverage manufacturing hub.

The work was so successful that industry members stepped up to support by funding a new expanded body of work culminating in the launch of Eugene’s Table in 2019. 

Eugene’s Table unites the food and beverage manufacturing community in the greater Eugene area to solidify our region as a hub for world-class companies. It leads collaborative development projects, promotes our products and values, and create opportunities to share knowledge and resources.

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 industry including:

  • Hosted 8 industry happy hour events (Food Business Unpacked) that now attract around ~100 people at each event.
  • University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business launched Business of Food course and showcases 30 companies at two Business Careers in Food Days (2018/2019).
  • Lane Community College begins developing two-year food and beverage manufacturing program.
  • Eugene Regional Accelerator awarded state funding to design Southern Willamette Food Business Development Center.  Eugene’s Table is launching a pilot F&B Accelerator in 2020.
  • Hundreds of local middle school students toured local food and beverage companies each year during Manufacturing Day in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
  • Coordinated F&B manufacturing summer externships for local teachers in 2018 and 2019.
  • F&B Career Pathway doc for local students created in 2018.
  • Eugene area recruits 2020 Wine and Tourism Conference and Wine Marketing Conference.
  • Eugene area to host the first ever Startup Weekend Food on the West Coast in November 2019.
  • Southern Willamette Food Trail launched in April 2019.
  • 5 local food and beverage companies participate in World Class Industries project at the Eugene Airport.
  • Bi-weekly Industry Updates Newsletter goes out to over 1000 contacts with open rate of 38% and click through rate of 9%. .
  • Leveraged unification of local manufacturers to negotiate discounted rates for events, advertising, and other industry resources.
  • Community LendingWorks provided $729k in financing to 17 emerging companies (Data from 7/1/17 – 3/1/19).
  • City of Eugene provided over $1m in financing to 5 companies (Data from 7/1/17 – 3/1/19).
  • Successfully transitioned public sector F&B economic development project into private industry supported organizational model.

Updates on events, opportunities, and stories for Eugene’s Table 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