For people in Grant County who need help starting a business, a new resource is coming at the start of the new year.
The Oregon Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network is a nonprofit organization that goes into a community and hires a venture catalyst, a local entrepreneur who will connect other entrepreneurs to different resources, such as access to capital education and training programs.
Oregon RAIN received a one-year, $50,000 grant from an Oregon-based foundation to start a venture catalyst program in Grant County.
The organization asked for a two-year commitment to start a pilot program in John Day with a $15,000 match from the local area.
The Grant County Court approved $5,000 from Economic Development to be used for the match. The city of John Day approved $10,000 from its Community Development Fund during its Oct. 8 city council meeting.
Allison Field, the Grant County Economic Development director, presented the program to the Grant County Court and to the John Day City Council. She also spoke with Canyon City and Prairie City about contributing funds for the collaborative program.
“The local venture catalyst will have the job to find these people (potential entrepreneurs) and create this entrepreneurial culture in the Grant County area,” Field said. “The venture catalyst will collect data in your region and find out what kind of entrepreneurial culture you have and what you need — and not just, ‘Hey, let’s go out and make an incubator or maker space.’ Maybe you need more of a manufacturing space.”
The $65,000 will be used to hire one local person that will work under Oregon RAIN and will have access to RAIN’s resources. The person hired will not be working for the city or county but can collaborate with the county Economic Development office.
“The first year, the Oregon-based foundation does most of the heavy lifting,” said Field. “The second year, we will need to diversify funding sources, hopefully engaging the State of Oregon, and then the rest will be picked up by the cities and the counties as a regional collaboration. Oregon RAIN leads the fundraising, which is great.”
Field also said Economic Development may contribute more to fund the second year of the program.
The mission of Oregon RAIN is “to partner with Oregon communities to catalyze entrepreneurial ecosystems, connect entrepreneurs to resources (including overlooked entrepreneurs), and contribute to the creation of prosperous economies,” according to its website.