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 economic development projects. Identified projects were:
    1. Sisters: Conduct a comprehensive Community Visioning process, in partnership with Deschutes County.
    2. Madras: Create a framework to encourage business and property owners to lead downtown redevelopment initiatives.
    3. Prineville: Identify community values and opportunities for downtown revitalization.
    4. La Pine: Identify community values for the future downtown La Pine, and for the development of additional community infrastructure on the site of a proposed transit hub in the new downtown core.
  2. Guide and test community outreach and engagement strategies as part of the process of pursuing the identified projects. In this way, projects are accountable to community priorities, successful implementation is more likely, and trust is improved between rural community members and community leaders.
  3. Focus outreach and engagement efforts on target populations that currently have less access to decision-making processes. Target populations include: 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 all four local teams. The local teams were anchored by the Community Development Departments of Madras, Sisters, La Pine, and Prineville and include a variety of community partners which have since grown and expanded in exciting ways!

This initial project resulted in the following key outcomes:

  • Sisters Country Community Vision, a partnership with COIC, The City of Sisters, and Deschutes County. Through stakeholder and grassroots community engagement, the Sisters Country Vision engaged more than 2,000 community voices and developed 20 strategies for Sisters Country to move forward in four focus areas: Prosperous Sisters, Livable Sisters, Resilient Sisters, and Connected Sisters.
  • Madras Downtown Association is a brand-new non-profit, spearheading a business-led effort to attract more customers and business activity to downtown Madras and make the downtown core a destination. COIC supported the early formation of the MDA, and worked with City staff to engage a consultant to complete a vision for downtown revitalization.
  • La Pine community design for La Pine Station, a new Transit Hub/Community Center on Huntington Road. COIC worked with city staff to build a collaborative, grassroots community vision for what residents want from a future “downtown La Pine” and developed a responsive design for La Pine Station based on community input. Residents even named the new facility!
  • Prineville Downtown Vision outlines key “next steps” that the city and stakeholders can take to support revitalization efforts in the downtown core. COIC supported a “vision and values” survey at the outset of the project, and engaged a consultant to create a 3-tier plan. COIC also supported the early formation of the Prineville Downtown Association in 2019. 

Current Project Work

Since our initial work with the projects highlighted above, COIC has continued to support rural community building projects across the region. Our current work is funded by the Meyer Memorial Trust, Ford Family Foundation, and our local Community Partners.

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. 

Community Building Learning Partnership

Funded by the Ford Family Foundation Institute for Community Building

Throughout 2019/20, COIC is participating in a regional learning partnership to further develop our community-building skills and expertise. The purpose of this partnership is to strengthen relationships between organizations doing similar community-building work at the regional scale, share connections and resources that have the potential to support our efforts, and identify new resources we could bring to the region to support community building initiatives.

This year-long learning partnership includes site visits to community-building projects around the region. It’s our goal to include our partners in these site visits as guests, so we can share the growth! If you’re doing community building work in Central Oregon and we haven’t yet connected, please get in touch.

For more information on COIC’s Rural Community Development program, please contact: Janel Ruehl by Email

COIC Administration,  Community & Economic Development & Loans, and CET Hawthorne Station
334 NE Hawthorne Ave.
Bend, OR 97701
541-548-8163 phone
541-923-3416 fax

Bend WorkSource
1645 NE Forbes Rd. Ste 101
Bend, OR 97701
541-388-6070 phone
541-389-8265 fax

Bend Alternative Education
1645 NE Forbes Rd. Ste 108
Bend, OR 97701
541-771-2229 phone

CET Bear Creek Office and Maintenance Facility
1250 NE Bear Creek Rd.
Bend, OR 97701

CET Antler Office and Maintenance Facility
343 East Antler Ave
Redmond, OR 97756
541-385-8680 phone
541-548-9548 fax

Redmond Alternative Education
2326 SW Glacier Place
Redmond, OR 97756
541-280-0031 phone

Redmond WorkSource
2158 SE College Loop, Suite B
Redmond, OR 97756
541-548-8196 phone
541-504-2969 fax

Prineville WorkSource
457 NE Ochoco Plaza Drive
Prineville, OR 97754
541-388-6201 phone
Hours: Tuesdays & Fridays 9-4, closed for noon hour (12-1pm)

Prineville Alternative Education
2321 NE 3rd St.
Prineville, OR 97754
541-280-6604 phone

La Pine Alternative Education
16493 Bluewood Place
La Pine, OR 97739  
541-907-7798 (phone)

Madras WorkSource
1170 E. Ashwood Rd.
Madras, Oregon
541-548-8196 phone
Hours: Mondays & Tuesdays 9-4pm