Voices of the Community

Following a competitive application process, Business Oregon has selected 20 Oregon communities, including Lincoln County, to receive a total of approximately $1,609,200 in funding.

The Economic Development Alliance of Lincoln County (EDALC) has joined nineteen other communities as awardees of the Business Oregon’s 2021-2023 Rural Opportunity Initiative (ROI) grant program.

ROI is Business Oregon’s strategic effort to empower rural communities to support entrepreneurs and small business growth.

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.

EDALC’s ROI work will begin with a coalition of local partners, including Lincoln City, the City of Newport, the City of Toledo, and the Lincoln County Small Business Development Center. As the coalition works through the three stages of the multi-year ROI program (Concept, Launch and Scale), EDALC will seek to bring in additional Lincoln County municipal partners into the growing county-wide coalition.

Lincoln County, as a region, needs a foundational level of services and scaffolding to build up its entrepreneurial ecosystem and support local entrepreneurs. The key components of this foundational work focus on building an entrepreneurial support network, providing targeted support to our local food sector entrepreneurs, coalescing entrepreneurs around our creative economies and offering essential core-level economic development services for entrepreneurs and small businesses alike.

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, according to the release.

Business Oregon said it 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.

Entrepreneurial development is a passion of mine. Most of my career, before I became a full-time economic developer, was as a software entrepreneur. Joining the other ROI communities will help EDALC really drill down on one of our key strategic priorities, which is helping Lincoln County thrive in the years ahead.

The Economic Development Alliance of Lincoln County (EDALC) is an independent Oregon nonprofit economic development organization. EDALC staff members work every day to attract, support and grow businesses in Lincoln County to ensure community-wide economic well-being and an improved quality of life. EDALC has served Lincoln County for over 25 years and is governed by a local board of directors. The agency receives funding from local governmental units, local business community and grant dollars.

Paul Schuytema is the executive director of the Economic Development Alliance of Lincoln County. He may be reached at 541-265-4544. Learn more at BusinessLincolnCounty.com.

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