Business Oregon Announces Recipients of Rural Entrepreneurship Funding
Following a competitive application process, Business Oregon selected 20 Oregon communities to receive a total of approximately $1,609,200 in funding from the Rural Opportunity Initiative (ROI) program. ROI is Business Oregon’s strategic effort to empower rural communities to support entrepreneurs and small business growth. That support comes through financing, innovative partnerships, network expansion, capacity support, and access to business development resources. ROI strengthens entrepreneurial ecosystems within and across Oregon’s rural communities with a particular emphasis on diverse populations and low-income households.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs drive rural economies, and are a major source of economic opportunity as well as resiliency. ROI’s “whole community” approach helps entrepreneurs thrive in the good times and recover faster and stronger following disruptions. In lieu of a “one size fits all” approach, ROI reflects community priorities and acknowledges that the best people to determine the right approach for a community are the residents themselves.
ROI is an investment in the vision of rural communities and aligns with Business Oregon’s strategic plan to innovate Oregon’s economy, grow local businesses, cultivate rural economic stability, and champion opportunity for underrepresented people.
Business Oregon received many strong applications and each was thoroughly reviewed, discussed, and scored by an evaluation committee prior to a final award decision. Listed below are the 20 selected recipients of 2021 ROI funding with a brief description of each community’s project.
2021 ROI Funding Recipients:
A Greater Applegate (AGA) – AGA will enhance coordination, marketing, and distribution channels within its food and farm system to better integrate farmers, ranchers, and consumers and improve opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Aprovecho – Aprovecho will engage local stakeholders, assess the regional restoration forestry entrepreneurial ecosystem, and design a Reforestation Forestry Entrepreneurial Boot Camp to prepare enterprising individuals to establish businesses in this emerging field.
Bohemia Food Hub (BFH) – BFH will continue to support low-barrier access to food-based entrepreneurship for underrepresented people, enhance organizational capacity, and build and strengthen partnerships to improve cohesiveness among resource providers.
CCD Business Development – CCD will coordinate a streamlined process to help entrepreneurs and small businesses access technical assistance, financial resources, and communication networks while reducing inefficiencies in the ecosystem.
Condon Chamber of Commerce – Condon Chamber will increase collaboration between 11 frontier communities across three rural counties, map the local ecosystem, and cultivate stakeholder support for a strategic plan for entrepreneur driven economic development.
High Desert Partnership (HDP) – HDP will continue building the ‘Idea to Ownership’ pipeline, cultivating opportunities for entrepreneurs in emerging natural resource industries, strengthening culturally specific programs, and developing a place-based branding campaign.
Indy Idea Hub – Indy Idea Hub will partner with other rural Polk Co. communities to build a cohesive regional ecosystem and provide ongoing entrepreneurial support services, with a particular focus on food-based business recovery and resiliency.
Keep it Local Columbia Co. – Keep it Local will upgrade its countywide business directory website and provide marketing and web training to small businesses to increase their capture of local consumer spending.
Klamath IDEA – Klamath IDEA will leverage the infrastructure it has built to increase the number of direct service providers, engage frontier entrepreneurs in the ecosystem, encourage broader community engagement, and strengthen its sustainability.
La Grande – La Grande will assess opportunities and gaps in its local ecosystem, broaden community engagement and stakeholder support, and enhance existing programming and resources for entrepreneurs.
Economic Development Alliance of Lincoln Co. – EDA Lincoln Co. will create a coalition of partners to build the ecosystem ‘scaffolding,’ including growing entrepreneurial networks and providing technical assistance and other resources with a specific focus on food sector businesses.
Launch Pad Baker (LPB) – LPB will solidify its placed-based entrepreneurial ecosystem by completing its online business wayfinding system, increase staff capacity for direct entrepreneurial support, and hire a social media navigator to offer additional, high-demand, resources to the community.
Maupin Works – Maupin Works will launch an entrepreneurial hub, offering co-working space, community building events, and co-located resources to small businesses and entrepreneurs in South Wasco Co.
Mid-Columbia Economic Development District (MCEDD) – MCEDD will continue to expand its ecosystem mapping efforts, increase connectivity and accessibility to small business resources, and develop an inclusive entrepreneurial culture that is welcoming to all members of the community.
Mid-Valley Partnership – The eight-city Mid-Valley Partnership will contract with RAIN to enhance the local ecosystem using a Venture Catalyst and Entrepreneur-in-Community to connect entrepreneurs to the people, programs, physical assets, and capital they need to start and grow businesses.
NE Oregon Economic Development District (NEOEDD) – NEOEDD will continue supporting entrepreneurs with business resources, convene entrepreneurs to identify needs, and assess the viability of adopting a countywide Main Street organization.
North Marion Co. Partnership – North Marion Co. Partners will assess the region’s ecosystem with a particular emphasis on Spanish- and Russian-speaking entrepreneurs, develop an action plan, and build stakeholder support for entrepreneur-led economic development.
Reedsport – Reedsport will work with public and private partners to assess its local ecosystem, develop an entrepreneur-driven strategic plan, and prepare to launch a place-based hub to support new and existing small businesses.
Tillamook Coast Visitors Association (TCVA) – TCVA will build upon its support for small farmers, fishers, and other food-based entrepreneurs while developing a business plan and implementation strategy for creating a Food Innovation Hub.
Veneta – Veneta will support value-added, food-based entrepreneurship by investing in a new culinary lab and providing business coaching and mentorship, as well as access to markets and events to stimulate demand for local products.
Business Oregon recognizes that rural communities often encounter capacity issues. ROI aims to address that by providing each community access to a program consultant to support their entrepreneurial ecosystem building goals.
In addition to the ROI program, following the recommendations outlined in the agency’s 10 Year Innovation Plan, Business Oregon will be supporting the development of Regional Innovation Hubs over the next couple of years to propel region-specific innovation and entrepreneurship. The Hubs will be focused on supporting traded sector, innovation-based, early stage companies within a regional ecosystem, and will complement ROI by enhancing access to resources and technical expertise as well as providing a gateway to other state-funded programs.