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Agora Improves the CEDS Process

One of NEOEDD’s most important responsibilities is to publish the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). This document, redrawn every five years and updated annually, provides an overview of the region’s social and business landscape, an analysis of the region’s economic and community development issues and opportunities, and a list of potential economic development and civic projects within the region that need funding. Check out our website for the 2013-2018 plan and 2016 update.

This year, a new innovation is available that will connect project supporters with potential funders, create greater visibility for projects, and keep project descriptions up-to-date. That innovation is an online platform called Agora.

“Agora was originally piloted with the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District in 2014,” says NEOEDD Executive Director Lisa Dawson. “We and a few other areas of Oregon make up the next phase of expansion. I like this platform because it brings more life to a project than a description in a spreadsheet, and it will give us a way to see what’s being proposed across the state.”

Community leaders, such as city and county staff, elected officials, regional coordinators, and nonprofit directors, are encouraged to register projects for which they seek funding by March 31, 2016. NEOEDD staff will then review each project proposal and provide free consultation about ways to make each proposal stronger and more compelling to potential funders.

In order to take advantage of the Agora platform and NEOEDD's technical assistance, project supporters need to create a profile for their organization here. Once logged in, users can create networks of other community leaders and organizations and view their projects. And users can, of course, upload their own projects, called “deals.”

Private capital providers, such as state and federal agencies, community foundations, and banks, and philanthropic sector individuals and organizations are also encouraged to register so they can view projects and consider them for funding.

A quick video overview of Agora (picture above) is available here. Testimonials from the beta phase are here. If you have questions about creating an Agora account or uploading a deal, contact Lisa, Sara, or Kristy at NEOEDD, 541-426-3598. The deadline to upload a deal for the 2016 CEDS update is March 31.