By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Whatchamacolumn: What is 'Coolest Thing Made in Yamhill County'?

Oregon Business & Industry started the fun in 2023 with a new way to promote the state’s diverse manufacturing community. Thanks to McMinnville Economic Development Partnership and McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce, we’re going to extend some of that fun to Yamhill County in 2024.

OBI launched its “Coolest Thing Made in Oregon” contest last year. Anyone could nominate products made in Oregon “in a manufacturing process,” and OBI created a tournament-like bracket for public voting on which ones were the “coolest.”

Coolness is one of the most subjective of all slang descriptors. “Cool” can be applied to any sight, sound, smell, taste or touch based on the mind of the beholder. Like many characteristics we can’t fully define, we know it when we experience it.

Last year’s OBI winner was the Mass Ply panel manufactured by Freres Engineered Wood in Lyons, just east of Stayton — one-inch lamella paneling constructed of nine layers of 1/8-inch veneer.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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Second place came from Yamhill County — the 500 Dental Chair produced by A-dec of Newberg, touted for its “superior comfort, precision positioning and optimal access.”

Nominations for OBI’s 2024 contest are due by July 12. But local people have until Aug. 19 to nominate products for the “Coolest Thing Made in Yamhill County” contest. See today’s full-page ad for details and links to the state and local nomination forms.

Yes, OBI approved our local take-off of their contest name – the more nominations the merrier, they said. And local business leaders – MEDP Executive Director Patty Herzog and Chamber President John Olson – jumped at the opportunity to have some local fun this year. They welcomed News-Register partnership in a local contest patterned after the OBI effort, all being launched today.

Agriculture, hospitality, education, retail, health care and personal services all are important elements of the local economy. But everywhere, manufacturing is considered a primary driver of innovation, productivity, family-wage jobs and traded-sector economic benefits.

Labor force, new technology and evolving global markets are key to the stability and growth of manufacturing in American and right here in Yamhill County. McMinnville and Newberg in particular have grown and prospered over the years due to diversity of traded-sector manufacturers and their related businesses.

Hundreds of local wines are produced by a manufacturing process, and arguably, this printed newspaper would qualify as a manufactured product. But we would expect a local winner to come from the amazing array of products made by all kinds of interesting Yamhill County industries.

Local manufacturers produce everything from snack bars to aircraft sealants; plastic tubing to drones and drone engines; metal molding components to crafted metal products; and much, much more.

The newspaper will continue promoting the three-way partnership seeking to find the Coolest Thing Made in Yamhill County, while representatives of MEDP and the Chamber focus on logistics for the public vote to come.

Meanwhile, we want to urge local citizens and companies to join in the fun by nominating – both locally and in the OBI competition – the many cool items produced in our county.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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