Column: Investing in our future one business at a time | Opinion



A local Columbia County small business resource center – Investing in our future, one business at a time

Starting or running a small business can be the most rewarding and difficult thing to do, all at the same time. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy; we all rely on them and often take them for granted. Locally, we lack the resources to help our small businesses be as successful as they can be. The pandemic and the resulting economic disruption has highlighted it in red, but also offers a unique opportunity to address it.

Columbia’s economics team has a plan for a Small Business Resource Center (SBRC) that will contain a Small Business Development Center, or SBDC. We’ve never had one locally, and while the pandemic has exposed this shortfall, pandemic relief funding provides the resources to correct this. The Columbia Economics team approached each of our city and county leaders to commit US Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds to establish an SBRC. And the statewide SBDC network has pledged to fund the rest, so for the first time we will have our own local hub as well as a statewide network of resources and capacity. . Who is it for? It’s for each of our communities, and maybe it’s just for you too.

Do you have a business idea but it hasn’t started yet? Or your business is operational, the door is open, but you are not yet profitable; things always seem new or uncertain.

Maybe your business is generating consistent income, seeing new customers on a regular basis, and looking for new growth opportunities.

Or you need to adapt to changing business conditions, which requires new processes and big decisions to move your business forward.

Maybe you are getting ready for the next step, ready to make a big change in your property and

exit to new opportunities.

If any of them sound like you or someone you know, our local Columbia Small Business Resource Center will be there for all of you, offering these services and more:

• Advice – confidential and provided free of charge, to help with planning, cash flow analysis, access to capital, marketing, hiring and more. Experienced advisors bring important skills and insights to help businesses thrive.

• Training – to acquire the skills you need for a successful business. Experienced instructors teach courses in marketing, accounting, human resources, business planning, and other topics that businesses need to master to be successful. In the classroom and online, business owners learn from each other as well as from instructors, developing important skills that lead them to thrive.

• The Access to Capital Team – specialist advisers aimed at helping local businesses access the capital needed to start or grow. Many are former lenders who understand the local capital landscape and help businesses determine the best path forward.

• The Global Trade Center – helps Oregon businesses connect to the global marketplace with specific guidance and training for international success, available free to all Oregon small businesses through our local SBDC.

• The Market Research Institute – provides actionable business intelligence, using the latest business research tools to deliver free, low-cost reports to help small business owners – that is, you – make better decisions in market development.

• SCALE Oregon – helps established and growing commercial companies take it to the next level with expert advice, CEO mentorship and the opportunity to access other services including market research, business planning and financial analysis.

• The Small Business Management Program – is a unique combination of classroom learning and one-on-one counseling. For up to three years, business owners really learn how to run a successful small business while collaborating with their peers.

• Special assistance with Spanish speaking advisors who are often trusted members of the Latino community, providing 1: 1 advice at no cost, helping small business owners start and grow.

• SBDCs partner with the Oregon Building Contractors Council – offering courses to new contractors who meet the CCB’s 16-hour study requirements to be eligible for the licensing exam.

• If it’s time to leave a business you’ve been building for years, SBDC’s Transition Assistance Advisors help business owners create plans to ease the process of transitioning from party to business. ‘other, whether they are family members, employees or third parties.

• Oregon SBDCs help business owners plan for disaster resilience – prepare for the worst before the worst happens – like the pandemic. From cloud backup of accounting files to supply chain risks, employee emergency preparedness, financial planning and risk mitigation tools. The past 18 months have shown us that nothing is more important.

• SBDC Cyber ​​Security and Innovation Programs – to help protect against cyber threats and secure grants for innovative solutions.

• SBDCs also help small businesses recover from disasters – by helping to access federal resources, budgeting, cash flow, and an understanding of state aid programs and the needs of the wider community. company, supported by the state network, specially trained advisers and resources.

• Our SBDC will use proven business tools such as GrowthWheel, a visual toolkit that helps business owners make better decisions and take action with their business, and is available free, exclusively, to Oregon SBDC clients.

• Or LivePlan – advanced software that simplifies business planning, budgeting, forecasting, and performance monitoring for small businesses, available free to Oregon SBDC clients.

• Bizminer – accessible to business advisers and directors of each SBDC, providing industry statistical reports, including financial analysis references at the national, local and postcode levels.

You will notice “no charge” throughout these offers – once we have an SBDC. Priceless and highly accessible help is what we ask our local leaders to invest in. With the statewide network, the cities of St. Helens, Vernonia, Columbia City, Clatskanie and individuals have already invested. Scapoose, Rainier and the Columbia County Council of Commissioners are currently reviewing the plan. We’re very close to full funding as a four-year start-up, enough time for the Center to prove its worth and gain traction, just like a good business.

On behalf of the 1,400 small businesses here today and the hundreds more we want to see tomorrow, this is a big step forward towards recovery, resilience and a small business sector that will support our communities. for generations.


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