MEDFORD, Ore. — Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc. (SOREDI) announced the recipients of the 2020 Prosper Awards this week; highlighting four companies, a regional community, and one individual for their contributions to entrepreneurial spirit of southern Oregon.
For nine years, SOREDI has been recognizing four parties in the region for exemplifying one of four qualities — Ingenuity, Tenacity, Prosperity, and Collaboration.
"These are the defining characteristics that SOREDI recognizes as vital to successful business growth in our region," the nonprofit said in a statement.
2020 Ingenuity Award
The Ingenuity Award went to Grants Pass-based Rentec Direct, an award-winning property management software company founded in 2007 by Nathan Miller. SOREDI said that Miller is a graduate of Illinois Valley High School and a self-taught programmer.
"After 13 years of business, Rentec Direct now employs 15 professionals in Grants Pass and boast 16,000 clients nationwide representing 600,000 property units," SOREDI said. "Rentec Direct is one of Inc 5000’s fastest growing private companies in the nation, 3 years in a row. Further, it was named one of the Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America in 2017, 2018 and 2019 by Entrepreneur 360."
2020 Tenacity Award
The Tenacity Award was bestowed upon Braun Brush, a company with an 145-year pedigree. Originally founded in New York, the family-owned company relocated to Ashland in 2018.
"Braun Brush manufacturers specialized industrial brushes for high-end applications in Pharmaceutical, aerospace, firearms, automotive and food and beverage industries," SOREDI said. "Its Wheel Whoolie auto detailing brush is currently manufactured in Ashland after a 2018 move their former San Francisco-based facility. Currently, the company is developing a brand-new facility in Medford, is expanding upon its long-standing success, and employs 10."
2020 Prosperity Award
The Prosperity Award went to Dutch Bros Coffee, the Grants Pass born-and-bred coffee powerhouse. It now has 393 stands in seven states, employing more than 12,000 people.
"Dutch Bros roasts over 100,000 coffee beans weekly from its roasting facility in the North Valley Industrial Park, while being headquartered in downtown Grants Pass," SOREDI said. "The rapid expansion has also resulted in a generous spirit with over one million samples donated yearly and over $2 million in donations made annually to local communities and non-profit organizations."
2020 Collaboration Award
This year the Collaboration Award was split between 15 jurisdictions in southwest Oregon, recognized for their collaboration and work unifying the region over the last year 18 months — Jackson and Josephine County, along with the cities of Ashland, Butte Falls, Cave Junction, Central Point, Eagle Point, Gold Hill, Jacksonville, Phoenix, Rogue River, Shady Cove, and Talent.
"Often referred to as the 15 jewels in Southern Oregon’s regional crown, the communities were enthusiastic in issuing 'Business Friendly' Proclamations at their public meetings and in financially supporting SOREDI’s 5-year Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, know as the One Rogue Valley CEDS," SOREDI said.
2020 Inspiration Award
The Inspiration Award went to Stacie Grier, an employee of Quantum Innovations in Medford. Grier is the first woman to receive the award since SOREDI began offering the Prosper Awards.
"Grier is honored for her vision and assistance in creating opportunities to educate and inspire youth, high schoolers, and college students toward local careers in manufacturing, technology, health professions and more," SOREDI said.
Grier spent 11 years with a technology manufacturer, five years with The Job Council, 13 years as a Junior Achievement consultant, and had a short stint with College Dreams. She is also credited with creating "Careers in Gear," a high school career fair that began in 2010 and has greatly expanded since.
"Moreover, Grier has been a valuable partner to SOREDI in its long history of industry tours in the region, and learning tours among high performance manufacturers," SOREDI said. "She is a 15-year volunteer and past board member for Wilderness Trails, co-leader of the Barnyard Critters 4-H Club in the Applegate Valley and founder of an after-school club for elementary school children at Ruch Community Bible Church."