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Brammo founder: Valley is perfect for startups

There is a common thread running through start-up companies that provide new jobs, Brammo founder Craig Bramscher told a gathering of business and community leaders Wednesday afternoon.

"They either become bigger or become the lifeblood of America," Bramscher said. "One of things we can do here is say this isn't all about work, but work is the lifeblood that everything else is built around. If you can build a business in a fantastic place to live and raise a family, then I think you've won."

Bramscher, one of the speakers during the Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc.'s annual meeting in Medford, made it clear that he thinks his electric motorcycle company has won by staying put.

Brammo is now in 21 countries and continually rolling out new distribution deals. So far, Bramscher has raised $80 million in investments for the business and is attempting to raise $30 million more.

He thinks that same kind of success can be created by other businesses, if they take advantage of the opportunities available in Southern Oregon.

There are obvious positives about the region for those who live here, he said, but it can still be a tough sell when making a pitch elsewhere.

"It's a real challenge when you talk to people in Los Angeles or New York City," he said. "When I've spent time going to all the major cities around the world, either raising money or trying to expand our distribution, we always talk about the great people."

Over time, Bramscher has built his own top list of reasons to live and build a company here: Great people, great weather, great cost of living, great support from government, great place to start and raise a family, community support for business, great roads, cost-effective facilities and a low overall cost of doing business. His presentation was capped by a series of still photos of the region's lifestyle.

"The weather is a big one," he said. "You do end up explaining a lot of times that it doesn't rain here; everybody equates us with Portland."

But having a connection to the state is also a plus, he noted.

"Oregon, in general, has this amazing brand around green and technology business. California has more dollars in revenue than here, but to the rest of the world when I say, 'We created an electric vehicle that goes 450 miles to the gallon,' they say, 'Well, it's Oregon and that's where all the green businesses are.'

"Usually, you have to build a brand, but we have this amazing brand; we just need to build the businesses to fill it."

Bramscher said the three lots Brammo left behind in Ashland when it moved to Talent are now being marketed.

"We're hoping we can find a business to come in from out of state and bring some jobs with them," he said.

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