The Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council was formed in 1972 by the region’s cities and counties as a “Council of Governments” under Oregon Revised Statute Section 190, which provides for the establishment of intergovernmental organizations.
COIC initially served as a venue for regional prioritization, comprehensive planning, regional studies, and collaborative problem-solving. COIC’s early functions included planning for law enforcement, emergency medical services, affordable housing, senior services, economic development, transportation and workforce development.
In the late 1970’s COIC’s leadership moved the organization toward the delivery of economic development and workforce development services. COIC was designated as an “Economic Development District” in 1979 by the US Department of Commerce, with a resulting focus on activities that more directly impacted the region’s economy. COIC was designated by the counties as a workforce development service provider around that time, providing job training support to Central Oregon job seekers, youth and businesses through the federal Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA).
COIC took on an Economic Development Administration public lending program in the early 1980s. Later, COIC formed a Community Development Corporation to access Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 loan resources. These public lending programs were established within regionally-based community organizations such as COIC as a means to provide efficient local access to loan resources, particularly in communities struggling economically.
COIC successfully managed the transition from the federal CETA workforce program to the Job Training and Partnership Act (JTPA), and then on to the Workforce Innovation Act (WIA) in 2000. COIC took on employment and training services in Klamath and Lake Counties in 2008 in response to a request from the county members of The Oregon Consortium, primarily due to COIC’s outstanding track record in delivering services and managing federal funding resources.
Reflecting the primary focus on workforce development, economic development and business lending services, in the early 1990s the COIC board adopted a mission statement: “To provide education, retraining, and economic development services to positively affect regional employment, individual lives, the business community, and local government.”
As population growth ramped up in the late 1990s and early 2000s, COIC’s regional roles continued to evolve. Over the past 15 years COIC has taken on more functions consistent with its Council of Governments origins, including regional telecommunications planning and advocacy, wildfire risk reduction planning, large lot industrial lands coordination, and public transportation services planning. COIC has increasingly become a home for regional stakeholder coordination, planning and problem solving – demonstrating the value and effectiveness of regional collaboration to meet a broad array of economic and social needs.
Regional public transportation needs became a major issue in Central Oregon in the early 2000s, with no general public service available in Central Oregon at that time. In 2006 COIC was asked to take on public transportation service delivery by Crook County, with the understanding that by centralizing this service, efficiencies could be gained and more services could be provided to the region. COIC then took on client-based senior transportation services regionally, and opened the service to the general public. Cascades East Transit was branded in 2008 as the region’s first general public transit service. COIC took on Bend Area Transit in 2010, forming a regionally integrated transit system with urban scale fixed route services in Bend, general public dial-a-ride services in rural communities, and connector shuttle services linking the region’s cities.
COIC continues to strive to meet regional-scale needs in 2020 and beyond through regional collaboration, achieving economy-of-scale efficiencies, and through the efficient delivery of public services. COIC’s current work force exceeds 110 staff members, with several office locations across cities and counties and the tribe. COIC’s board of directors is composed of elected officials from Central Oregon’s three counties and eight cities, and a member from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the private sector, education, and chambers of commerce. Primary program areas are Community and Economic Development, Business Loans, Employment and Training (including education), and Transportation.