Economic development: the core of Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative efforts

Economic development: the core of Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative efforts Main Photo

9 May 2023


Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (OTEC) is one of Oregon's largest distribution cooperatives, serving approximately 31,000 meters in Baker, Grant, Harney and Union counties with a distribution system valued at more than $153 million.

Yet, OTEC’s impact goes beyond electricity distribution as an economic pillar for eastern Oregon. It is steeped in economic and community development in its service area, providing relocation information, business support, local incentives and more to help drive profitable growth for residents and businesses.

May 8 to 12 is an opportune time to reflect on the importance of regional economic development efforts to build vibrant and sustainable communities with National Economic Development Week (EDW).

The International Economic Development Council’s eighth annual EDW is a chance to recognize economic developers, the local leaders and organizations who work tirelessly to recruit investors, develop businesses, create jobs, enhance the tax base and ultimately improve the quality of life of their communities. Many resources are available for participating in this year's events. The IEDC’s #EconDevWeek23 Toolkit offers several ideas and using #EconDevWeek can help amplify the value EDOs have in a community. 

Economic Development and Cooperatives

America’s electric cooperatives adhere to seven principles focused on the needs of its members.

  • Open and voluntary membership
  • Democratic member control
  • Member economic participation
  • Autonomy and independence
  • Education, training and information
  • Cooperation among cooperatives
  • Concern for community

The last principle strikes at the heart of economic and community development. The electricity supplied by cooperatives certainly drives economic activity among its members. The funds generated by the cooperative not only ensure the electricity deliverance continues, but they can be reinvested into their communities in projects with financing assistance, capital credits and rebates to further foster development. Electric cooperatives members are often local entrepreneurs, business owners or leaders who are invested in and know their community intimately. 

Projects initiated by cooperative members target the sustainable development of their communities. A report by FTI Consulting found that, on a national basis, America’s electric cooperatives contributed $440 billion in gross domestic product, $200 billion in labor income and $112 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues from 2013 to 2017. Annually, this economic impact supported nearly 612,000 U.S. jobs.

It takes a village

OTEC has made economic and community development a priority, making it easier for families to live and businesses to operate in eastern Oregon. Beyond its low-cost energy, the cooperative offers numerous financing incentives, free assistance with site selection and other business resources. 

But the communities within OTEC’s service area have many other organizations to assist entrepreneurs and businesses in their communities.

Baker County Economic Development

Grant County Economic Development

Oregon Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network

Harney County Economic Development

Northeast Oregon Economic Development District

Eastern Oregon University Small Business Development Center

Economic Development Department of the City of La Grande

Be part of northeastern Oregon’s economic development!

OTEC is working to keep eastern Oregon an ideal place to live, work, play and learn. Follow along on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram to be part of the great effort supporting the businesses of our area!