Rural Community Development

Rural Community Building Program

Rural community and economic development is at the core of COIC’s mission. In the process of developing our 2017 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), we determined that rural communities were lagging behind urban centers in economic development, and that some community populations were lagging behind in all communities, including women and BIPOC. In response, COIC started an ongoing conversation with our rural community partners to determine how we might assist in bridging these gaps.

In 2017, COIC received a Meyer Memorial Trust capacity-building grant to support community and economic development projects in four rural communities of Central Oregon, with the following goals:

  1. Work with rural community leaders to identify needed, tangible community and economic development projects. 
  2. Guide and test new community outreach and engagement strategies, to ensure that projects are accountable to community priorities, successful implementation is more likely, and trust is improved between rural community members and local leaders.
  3. Include focused outreach and engagement efforts to populations that currently have less access to decision-making processes, including: Low-income, youth, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled, and veterans.
  4. Increase local capacity to coordinate, build, and deliver on community goals for the future.

To achieve these goals, COIC formed a regional steering team to guide the project and a local team in each community. The steering team included COIC, Oregon’s Kitchen Table, Let’s Talk Diversity Coalition, and the Ford Family Foundation. Together, this team provided technical assistance and staff capacity to the local community building teams.


Following our initial work with Meyer Memorial Trust, COIC and the Ford Institute for Community Building (FICB), a department of the Ford Family Foundation, continued on in partnership to further expand this program. With FICB’s guidance and financial support, COIC expanded our work to include new local teams throughout the region and added new, low-cost workshops and trainings, peer-to-peer networking opportunities, and one-on-one coaching for our growing regional network of rural community builders. Today, our work is informed by FICB’s Community Building Approach and utilizes community assessment and project evaluation tools co-developed with FICB and other community builders throughout the state of Oregon. 

COIC looks forward to continuing to grow our regional network of rural community builders! We offer technical assistance for local projects, including:

  • Project & meeting facilitation/coordination 
  • Resource development & grant writing
  • Data collection
  • Community outreach training & techniques
  • Strategic planning, land-use planning & site planning for new community infrastructure
  • Financial literacy, budgeting & business planning
  • Community needs assessments & feasibility studies
  • Collaboration and collective impact frameworks

Every community builder group that receives technical assistance support is also introduced to FICB’s Rural Community Building Evaluation/Assessment tools, including the Community Growth Matrix and 4Cs Assessment. These tools can help your project or organization understand your strengths and the best pathways to growth. 


Current Project Work

Our current work is funded by the Ford Family Foundation and our local Community Partners. If you’re interested in working with COIC on your rural community building project, or to learn more, contact CED Program Administrator, Janel Ruehl, at: jruehl@coic.org 

Madras has a new Downtown Association! COIC helped support the formation of the MDA and continues to work alongside the board to provide capacity and outreach support, develop sustainable funding, and support their strategic planning work.

Seeing the value of a business-led downtown revitalization effort, the city of Prineville has also supported the formation of a new Downtown Association. Now a 501c3, the Prineville Downtown Association has just applied to participate in the Oregon Main Street Program. COIC is supporting the PDA board with capacity and technical assistance as they begin their strategic planning efforts and set future goals.

La Pine

Following the completion of the La Pine Station design, the City of La Pine has successfully secured funding for the first stages of construction. COIC continues to support La Pine with technical assistance and resource identification as they work toward full completion of this project. The City is also looking toward the future, hoping to redesign the Huntington Road area to reflect community values for a future downtown core.

“The City had never taken a proactive approach in building trust through community engagement. We asked community members about a very tangible project/property and then used the feedback to show direct responsiveness. We had a very successful citizen input survey, with over 700 respondents – our best ever! We’ve learned the value of using experts at the right time, and being willing to adjust as you go along. “ – Cory Misley, La Pine City Manager


With the Sisters Country Vision and Action Plan complete, Sisters Country is now working on implementation! The city has contracted with COIC to serve as the “vision coordinator”, providing general project management, communication, and facilitation support to the community-led Vision Implementation Team. Learn more at www.sistersvision.org! 


The City of Metolius sees change coming as the region continues to grow, and wants to be proactive in defining their values now. COIC is supporting Metolius’ Community Vision project through coordination, strategic planning, and facilitation support for the Vision Steering Team through 2021.


In 2019, COIC facilitated the City of Culver’s Strategic Planning process, including testing new community outreach and engagment tools to help increase community awareness of and participation in city-led development initiatives. 

General resources for businesses and employees: Central Oregon SOS - Support for Employees and Employers

SBA programs:


OSU Innovation Lab

Oregon State University Cascades Innovation Co-Lab

Opportunity Knocks- A fantastic 

Opportunity Knocks



COIC Administration,  Community & Economic Development & Loans, and CET Hawthorne Station
334 NE Hawthorne Ave.
Bend, OR 97701
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Redmond, OR 97756
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Redmond, OR 97756
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Prineville Alternative Education
2321 NE 3rd St.
Prineville, OR 97754
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La Pine Alternative Education
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La Pine, OR 97739  
541-907-7798 (phone)

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Madras, Oregon
541-548-8196 phone
Hours: Mondays & Tuesdays 9-4pm