The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Oregon Investment Board has made $250,000 available for a pilot program that has a streamlined application process, minimal documentation and insurance requirements, ingrained small business counseling, and performance incentives. Loans up to $40,000 per company are available now.
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Oregon Investment Board (OIB) authorized the launch of a new pilot loan program. The program is designed to support the financial needs of small businesses with a streamlined application process, minimal documentation and insurance requirements, ingrained small business counseling, and performance incentives.
The OIB offers financing for small businesses in the Oregon boundary of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area in Wasco, Hood River and Multnomah counties. Programs supplement traditional lending resources available through commercial banks and can provide funding when another lender is unable to work with a business client. This new pilot program gives the OIB the opportunity to boost economic development by offering a more consolidated loan application process. The program is specifically targeted to support entrepreneurs, new business start-ups, expanding businesses, and existing businesses for debt refinancing.
Oregon Investment Board Chair, Jack Miller, stated “The Board authorized funding for this pilot program as a way to further spur investments into our regional economy. We are willing to take some additional risks to help our local businesses grow. The OIB programs have been tremendously successful in the past in supporting everything from food and beverage manufacturers to retail stores to tech entrepreneurs.” Mid-Columbia Economic Development District staff, which manages the OIB program, commended the board for their forward-thinking approach. “The Board was thoughtful in their deliberations of establishing this pilot program” stated Amanda Hoey, MCEDD Executive Director. “They analyzed business finance needs, the areas being covered by other lenders, and sought to create an accessible program for small loans.” Hoey also noted that the timing of the program release will also allow the Board to be responsive to businesses adversely impacted by the recent Eagle Creek Fire.
As the pilot program includes business counseling, the program is geared towards long term success of local businesses as they grow. OIB Board member and CGCC SBDC Director Rick Leibowitz underscored the importance of the small business counseling aspects of the program, stating “Confidential counseling with an advisor helps businesses get an outside perspective on budgeting. We have experience dealing with various cash flow issues and we can assist business owners as they develop personalized and workable plans moving forward.” He noted that businesses with cash challenges often turn to options that come at a very high cost because of the ease of approval. Often in hindsight, businesses recognize that cost of financing and payback terms were too onerous for their budgets. He was an advocate to include the opportunities for businesses to access this fund for debt refinancing as an eligible fund use.
Businesses are encouraged to contact the Loan Fund Manager at the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, Eric Nerdin, (541) 296-2266 or firstname.lastname@example.org, to discuss their needs. More information on the pilot program and the application can be found at https://www.mcedd.org/
In 1986, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act established a bi-state, six-county region shared by the states of Oregon and Washington. In conjunction with this Act, Congress earmarked a small amount of funding for Oregon and Washington for the purpose of making economic development loans and grants. The Oregon Investment Board (OIB) is responsible for the administration of the Oregon Economic Development Plan, within Multnomah, Hood River, and Wasco, the Oregon counties lying in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Mid-Columbia Economic Development District provides administration for the program.