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Sparking Innovation: What's Next in Agriculture

Jun 23, 2021

In the Willamette Valley, agriculture is one of the cornerstones of the economy. Over 170 different crop and livestock items are produced here, including grass and legume seeds, tree fruits and nuts, wine grapes, berries, vegetables, Christmas trees, and field crops such as wheat, oats, mint and hops, hay, livestock and poultry and more!   On Wednesday, June 23, MEDP along with industry partners  SEDCOR, Buildable and Launch Mid-Valley hosted an exciting conversation surrounding innovation and technology in agriculture.  This was our first in-person event since February of 2020, and it was exciting to be out in the world supporting local business and making connections within the tech and agriculture sectors. 

 Participants Mingle at the Pub Talk Beer in Mug

This “Pub Talk” took place at Foreland Beer in McMinnville, (cudos on winning an Oregon Beer Award for Best New Brewery!). Participants were able to mingle and network in the shade while enjoying the beer garden and brews crafted by Sean Burke. 

The panel of speakers included Alex Paraskevas, Pat Crowley, and Miles Oliveira

 Speakers at Pub Talk

Alex Paraskevas is the Polk County Business Retention and Expansion Manager at the Strategic Economic Development Corporation (SEDCOR), and one of his main areas of focus is the Northwest Ag Innovation Hub, which is creating a network of regional farmers, startups, entrepreneurs and technology partners. The idea is to be able to connect local farmers to collaborate on new ideas and test innovative technologies and specialty crops as a way to create more business opportunities, have access to more data, investment models, and new products. The Hub will create a regional culture of innovation and foster growth among ag startups, the Ag Supply Chain, and the entire local economy! To learn more about how you can get plugged into the Northwest Ag Innovation Hub, contact Alex directly. ALEXP@SEDCOR.COM 

Pat Crowley Presenting at Innovation in Ag TechPat Crowley teaching the attendees about the bio-diversity of insects

Pat Crowley is the founder and CEO of Chapul Farms, which is building and scaling a robust supply chain of insect agriculture to help end food waste, eliminate antibiotics in our food, regenerate our soil health, destroy our reliance on fossil fuels, and ignite a revolution to take back our food system. You read that right, bugs are going to change the world, and it’s happening right here in Yamhill County! (and we seriously could listen to Pat explain this process All. Day. Long. It’s pretty amazing)  The research that Chapul Farmers is conducting is focused on the Black Soldier Fly and its Larvae and bi-product known as frass. The larvae conveniently feed on decomposing food waste, and their frass contains beneficial microbes and nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Not only that,but when insect frass is present in soil, it helps plants to enhance their defensive mechanisms against insects, which results in more resilient and productive plants/ fruit etc. Check out this 2019 TedX talk to hear Pat speak, and learn a bit more about his insect efforts and insights. 

Arthur with the BugsArthur Chaput, the Regional Development Officer for Polk, Marion, and Yamhill Counties (Business Oregon) examining a jar of dried larvae

Miles Oliveira is the Business Development Manager for Buildable, a Custom Software Development firm based in McMinnville, Oregon. He is passionate about solving problems through technology enablement for companies large and small, and Oregon ERP does just that. ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. If you have no idea what this means, you are not alone. Essentially ERP is a program that takes all the core essentials of running a business (managing inventory, costs, data, HR, manufacturing, Accounting, Customer Relations  etc.) and integrates them into a single system. Historically, ERP systems have been cost prohibitive for smaller businesses, but Buildable has been working with an Open Source system called ERP Next, and recently received a HIOP Grant (High Impact Opportunity Project) from Business Oregon to further develop Open Source Modules specific for small manufacturers and farmers. 

You can learn more about Oregon ERP, the HIOP grant from Business Oregon, and how this public-private partnership came about at SEDCOR’s July Economic Business Forum. On July 14th at Noon. . The Event is taking place online, and there will be plenty of time for questions! Find out more, and register for the webinar here. 

Miles at the Pub Talk
Miles Oliveira speaking about the possibilities with Open Source ERP

Thank you to our Sponsors

We know in the next weeks, months, and years, Ag-Tech is going to be at the forefront of business and industry, especially in the Willamette Valley. We cannot wait to see the innovation of our local companies and the creative partnerships that are formed. 

We are looking forward to upcoming industry-specific events, roundtables, and networking opportunities as we are transitioning back towards more in-person gatherings. Stay up to date on our in-person offerings by following us on Social Media and subscribing to our monthly e-newsletter, and always feel free to give us a call. 503.474.6814 


Upcoming classes from Chemeketa Small Business Development Center 

Mid-Valley Angel Fund Workshop: June 28th, 5-7 PM at Left Coast Estate. Please RSVP at the link. This is a workshop where current investors or potential investors learn more about the Mid-Valley Angel Fund.

Oregon Connections 2021 STEM/CTE Industry Speed Networking Event  Wednesday, JUNE 30th, 2021, 8:30-11:30 AM (Virtually!) Calling all K-12 Educators & Administrators! Meet local professionals wanting to support STEM, CTE, and student learning in Oregon schools.

SEDCOR- July Economic Business Forum Webinar: Innovating Solutions – ERPNext July 14, 2021, 12:00 PM. - Virtual Event

Please join Abisha Stone of SEDCOR and Heather Hadley-Blank of MEDP (McMinnville Economic Development Partnership) as we explore the inner workings of a partnership that formed between Buildable LLC, OMEP (Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership), and Business Oregon, as a local company became committed to solving a historic industry problem. This virtual event will also include plenty of time for questions!

The Oregon Department of Education is seeking Industry input on the skills desired of entry-level job candidates in the Manufacturing & IT fields. Your feedback will be used to update the standards that career and technical education (CTE) teachers and faculty in Oregon consult when designing coursework.  Please complete by July 2nd. 

Manufacturing Skills Survey

IT Skills Survey 



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