A little more than a year after luring Internet darling Facebook to its small town, Prineville is targeting other data centers and has two prospective companies are looking at the area, The Bulletin reported this past week.
The newspaper quoted City Manager Steve Forrester as saying that negotiations were far enough along with the companies, which he declined to name, that city staff had assigned them code names, "Project Campbell" and "Cloud."
The news would be welcome in Prineville where unemployment has been among the highest in the state of Oregon over the past several years. Construction of Facebook's massive data center has given the area a temporary injection of cash, which the paper detailed in another story about how hotels and lunch spots are a seeing an influx of Facebook contractors.
Facebook's site manager Ken Patchett credited Prineville for tackling some of the obstacles that could have precluded Facebook and other tech companies from locating in the relatively remote Crook County, including freeing up water from the Crooked River and upgrading the area's electrical grid.
Apparently, all of this tech talk is causing locals to work up a thirst. At least that's one way to read the news that Prineville is set to open its first bona fide brewpub with Solstice Brewing.
Owner Joseph Barker told The Bulletin that he looked at the Bend area when considering where to open his pub, but ultimately decided the market was too crowded. Friends in Prineville ultimately convinced Barker, who is from Portland, to give their town a look and he liked what he saw, which included a lack of craft brewers.
"There's a lot of Coors and Bud out there," he told the paper.
Barker, who signed a lease in downtown Prineville in May, hopes to be open by July 4.
Speaking of brewing entrepreneurs Bend's long-planned Noble announced this past week that it would soon open in the westside Century Center, but not as Noble Brewing. Instead, owners said they plan to do business as GoodLife Brewing Co. Owner Ty Barnett, one of three partners, told The Bulletin that the move was a reflection of the owners' attitudes and not caused by any outside pressure from like-named breweries. (There is already a Noble Ale Works in Anaheim.) Sure, Ty, whatever. But couldn't you have come up with a better name than GoodLife?
Well, at least they can co-opt Miller's High Life campaign...
Speaking of beer, Visit Bend announced this week that it will be handing out free beer koozies in addition to the indestructible Silipint glasses to folks to who successfully complete the Bend Ale Trail. So far, more than 1,400 have successfully stumbled across the finish line on the Ale Trail, which requires participants to collect a stamp at each of the area's breweries. Drinkers can turn in their stamp collection at Visit Bend's downtown office in exchange for the aforementioned pint glass and koozie.
Speaking of downtown Bend, G5 the local search marketing company that has seen its stock soar over the past several years was recently named one of the Top 50 small business for which to work in the country by Inc Magazine. G5 wasn't the only business to earn accolades, n-Link, another Bend tech company was also recognized as one of the Top 50 small employers. Coincidentally, the two businesses happen to share an address in downtown's Franklin Crossing building.
Redmond school officials reported this week that the district's new high school is expected to come in some $5 million under budget, thanks in part to a decision to delay the opening of the building until 2013. While the exterior of the structure is mostly completed, there is much work to be done on the interior of Ridgeway High School, including classroom improvements and technology installations. The Redmond school board had come under fire for hiring Skanska, an international construction firm based in Sweden, over Bend's Kirby Nagelhout, which also bid on the project. More than 75 percent of the work related to the project, however, has gone to local contractors, according to The Bulletin.
On the topic of controversial contracts, Powell Butte Republican Mike McLane took issue with one this past week when he argued that the state ought to cancel a $2-million advertising deal aimed at promoting carpooling and alternative modes of transportation. An Oregon House Republican who stands a chance of representing a portion of Bend under one proposed House redistricting plan, McLane argued that money set aside for the "Drive Less, Save More," campaign would be better spent on transportation for seniors and people with disabilities. The program initially targeted only the Portland area, however, the state transportation commission expanded it statewide last year and boosted the funding. McLane isn't the only person with Central Oregon ties to criticize the program. According to The Oregonian, State Senator Betsy Johnson, a Scappoose Democrat who was raised in Central Oregon, called the program "silly."