Paul Hodge, CEO and president of Laird Superfood, receives the Award of Excellence in Economic Development from Karen Porsche, president of Oregon Economic Development Association, last week in Salem. photo provided
Paul Hodge, CEO and president of Laird Superfood, receives the Award of Excellence in Economic Development from Karen Porsche, president of Oregon Economic Development Association, last week in Salem. photo provided
Local up-and-comer Laird Superfood received an Award of Excellence in Economic Development at the annual convention of the Oregon Economic Development Association (ODEA) in Salem, October 27.

Paul Hodge, CEO and president of Laird, accepted the award.

“It is great to be recognized for the money and hard work invested in establishing Laird here in Sisters,” Hodge acknowledged. “Our goal is to create jobs that will help balance the economy of Sisters.”

The annual awards recognize Oregon’s best economic development programs, projects, partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leader, for their efforts in creating positive economic development in Oregon communities.

“For Laird Superfood to receive the 2019 Business Development Award from OEDA is quite an accomplishment!” according to Caprielle Lewis, Sisters-Area EDCO director. “This award recognized, at the state level, what can be achieved in rural communities when public and private entities collaborate. They have proven that launching a world-wide brand in a small town can be done and done successfully. Hats off to Laird Superfood!”

Winners are recognized in each of five categories: business development success; exceptional economic development marketing and promotions; urban renewal project of the year; outstanding collaborative partnership; and economic development leader of the year.

The Business Development Success award recognizes innovative programs in business development including expanding an existing business or recruiting new businesses in an effort to create jobs, expand the local tax base, and improve the community.

The criteria used for choosing the winner include: extent of the economic impact on the community (increase in overall tax base, creation of new jobs, or criteria relevant to the goals of the program); achievement of its stated objective with measurable results; development of strong relationships with relevant players and widespread community support; innovation, originality, and cost effectiveness; and relevance and transferability of elements to other communities.

As Laird was announced the winner, a narrative voiceover for a video played:

“Sisters, Oregon, is home to the world headquarters of Laird Superfood. In 2015, the company launched with just three employees. Its flagship product, Laird Superfood creamer, was making waves across the natural products market thanks in part to the company’s namesake and co-founder, surfing legend Laird Hamilton. Today, Laird Superfood employs over 100 people and occupies a brand-new 20,000-plus-square-foot state-of-the-art campus.

“CEO Paul Hodge worked closely with Economic Development for Central Oregon and its Sisters-Area Director Caprielle Lewis to make Sisters home. Together, they determined that Sisters offered the perfect location for manufacturing a globally distributed food product supported by a dynamic workforce. Says Hodge of EDCO’s support role, “They went above and beyond the call of duty. This was the determining factor in building our business in Central Oregon.

“Laird Superfood has purchased additional lots for expansion, and its success is being shared with the community of Sisters. With advancements in technology and ecommerce, it’s clear that attracting and nurturing a company of this scale is possible for rural communities. ODEA is pleased to present its 2019 Award for Business Development Success to Laird Superfood.”

Laird was the recipient of two forgivable loans to encourage their locating in Sisters, one for $51,000 from the City’s Forgivable Loan Fund and $50,000 from the Deschutes County Economic Development Loan Fund program.