Oregon's rural entrepreneurs land a resource of their own

By: Malia Spencer - Aug 08, 2016
Source: Portland Business Journal

Oregon economic development leaders on Monday unveiled a new program focused on cultivating homegrown companies and entrepreneurs in rural parts of the state.

The Rural Entrepreneurship Development Initiative is a public-private partnership designed to work with and augment programs already in in place in targeted cities. The program is launching in Baker City, La Grande, Klamath Falls and Coos Bay.

“Rural Oregonians seeking to launch, grow and scale viable companies have had inconsistent access to networking, capital and mentoring resources,” Chris Harder, the director of Business Oregon, the state's economic development agency, said in a news release. “Great resources exist, and we’re using this initiative to invest in unique local opportunities and partnerships to improve access.”

The program will look different as it unrolls in each city. In Coos Bay, for example, the initiative is opening up a resource center in downtown that will house 10 different local partners. In addition to those resources, the facility will have an small business incubator space, a commercial kitchen and co-working space. The Coos Bay program will be coordinated by the South Coast Development Council.

The initiative also has support from financial partners such as Craft3, a Pacific Northwest-focused nonprofit that makes loans to small businesses.

“Craft3 has been making business loans to rural Oregonians for 22 years,” Craft3 CEO Adam Zimmerman in a written statement. “We are encouraged by this effort to grow rural economic opportunity through entrepreneurship, and are pleased to be in the position to offer financial support to accelerate local and state leadership.”

The Rural Entrepreneurship Development Initiative is expected to start offering service support this fall.