Business-building programs revealed to social-services leaders

Interestingly enough, business owners and managers were specifically not invited to the “East Portland Small Business Assistance Workshop” put on by the PDC at Midland Library. Find out why, right here …

Community and service organization leaders gather to get business referral information during the “East Portland Small Business Assistance Workshop”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
At an event entitled, “East Portland Small Business Assistance Workshop”, one would expect the target to be small business owners and managers – perhaps helping them to start or improve their firms.

But, when we came the March 3 program, held at Midland Library, we learned that the program was for an altogether difference audience. We spoke with Lynn Knox, the manager of the Economic Opportunity and Initiative (EOI) at the Portland Development Commission (PDC).

“I’m part of a team trying to bring support to grow small businesses all over the City,” Knox remarked about her work.

“This workshop is for community leaders, organizations, business associations, neighborhood associations, and East Portland residents who want to know about small business assistance resources available from the PDC and allied organizations,” Knox explained. “It’s not to provide direct assistance to businesspeople. Instead, we plan to introduce community stakeholders to resources they may share with people in business.”

In summary, Knox said, “This workshop is intended to provide answers the question, ‘Where do you go for help with a small business?’ Eventually, we want to do some broader outreach for individual businesses.”

ROSE CDC’s Nick Sauvie introduces the workshop, and tells of its connection with the East Portland Action Plan.

Associated with East Portland Action Plan
Nick Sauvie, Executive Director of ROSE Community Development Corporation, was on hand to kick off the meeting.

Before he started, he told East Portland News, “My interest is both because of ROSE CDC, and because I’m the Chair of the East Portland Action Plan Economic Development subcommittee. We’re interested in creating more family-wage jobs in outer East Portland – that’s our number one priority.”

Sauvie pointed out that ROSE has been involved with the Economic Opportunity Initiative through their childcare entrepreneurial program. “Today, we’ll introduce folks in Outer East Portland to a range of programs that will help people get better jobs, increase their income, and make things better in our neighborhoods.”

After introductions, Knox told how the EOI program, started in 2004, has helped revitalize neighborhoods by assisting people to improve their income and by “reaching residents who had been left behind.”

Specifically, she reported that the goal of the program is to increase the income and assets of low-income participants by at least 25%, within three years of their enrollment in the Initiative.

“With a coordinated portfolio of 33 projects for young people and adults,” Knox stated, “it’s clearly not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ initiative.”

Lynn Knox, the manager of the Economic Opportunity and Initiative at the Portland Development Commission talks about the many resources that are available to disadvantaged business operators.

Shares success stories
Attendees then heard from exhibitors about their programs, such as:

  • Neighborhood House’s Child Care Improvement Project – Culturally and geographically-based networks of family care providers;
  • Metropolitan Contractor Improvement Project – Providing training, business education, and coaching in accessing contracting opportunities for construction contractors ‘of color’;
  • Trillium Artisans – Supporting local craftspeople who create with recycled and reclaimed materials; and,
  • PDC – Urban Renewal assistance programs.

After a break, attendees also got a brief introduction to projects operated by:

Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon – An “outcome-driven program” that supports small businesses in Portland with individualized business planning, marketing, and financing;

Mercy Corps Northwest Entrepreneurship Project – Providing business development services to traditionally underserved populations, with an array of individually-tailored business assistance, training, and access to capital;

Portland State University Business Outreach Program – It draws on resources of the university’s Business School, and provides mentoring and business assistance to small businesses – primarily in North and Northeast Portland.

Portland Community College Small Business Development Center – They provide a “wide range of classes and services” for small businesses. Portland Development can commission refers some lone clients to them for services and they support referrals from the Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Associations.

PDC’s Business Connect program – Information on how to start and grow a business.

Looking for help with your small business?

Now you know where to start! CLICK on the name of the above projects to open their respective webpages.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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