Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc. is climbing back on the bus later this month, teaming up with the Oregon Manufacturer's Extension Partnership to visit three local companies on Wednesday, Oct. 30.

Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc. is climbing back on the bus later this month, teaming up with the Oregon Manufacturer's Extension Partnership to visit three local companies on Wednesday, Oct. 30.

This will be the 13th tour since early 2009, when SOREDI swung through TEC Equipment, Lithia AutoPlex, Erickson Air-Crane, Microvellum, ESAM, Asante, Mercy Flights and Adroit Construction between February and May that year.

The bus this month will stop at Harry & David in south Medford, Murphy Plywood in Rogue River and Pacific Crest Transformers in White City.

The tours used to take place quarterly, but this will be the first since October 2012.

SOREDI Executive Director Ron Fox said October was a good time to climb back on board because National Manufacturing Day was celebrated earlier this month.

"We're working on putting more emphasis on the manufacturing and creative component of our economy," Fox said. "This allows us to raise the awareness of hidden gems and things created and manufactured in Southern Oregon. If they don't function in the retail and consumer sector, they often go undetected."

While Harry & David is well-known to local residents, Murphy Plywood and Pacific Crest Transformers are not as visible to most people.

"We have some innovative and creative companies in the region making globally competitive products right here in Southern Oregon," Fox said. "Transformers from Pacific Crest power businesses around the world, and Murphy has a product mix that competes in the building sector."

Fox said government statistics pointing to declining manufacturing jobs sometimes miss the mark.

"The Labor Department statistics grossly misrepresent the goods-creating sector of our economy," Fox said. "Most all of our goods-creating companies are creating at a greater output through productivity enhancements."

Processes are controlled with computers and other components, reducing costs and ramping up output.

"They may have fewer employees than five years ago, but the businesses are producing more total value as a result of the technology and efficiency components they have put into place. That's what makes companies sustainable for the long term."

The tour will begin at the TownePlace Suites by Marriott in south Medford at 8 a.m., and includes lunch at the Table Rock Campus of Rogue Community Collegein White City.

Scott Shumway, president of Ashland-based Cropper Medical, maker of Bio-Skin, will speak during lunch.

Registration costs $30 for SOREDI members and $45 for nonmembers. Registration is available online at www.soredi.org/BuyProducts.asp.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com.