One of Florence’s goals for the City includes “creating a strategy and actions aimed towards sustaining and expanding the Florence economy.” City Manager, Erin Reynolds, has been a great partner to RAIN and instrumental to our outreach in the Florence area. RAIN’s model for supporting entrepreneurs and innovators in a region requires a strong partnership with at least one local economic development / government organization, and Erin and her Economic Development Coordinator, Kelli Weese, have committed time and financial resources to supporting their local entrepreneurs and innovators.

Activities to Date:

  1. Oct 14th: Hosted our first “RAIN Coffee Meetup” at Homegrown (17 attended)
  2. Oct 28th: Hosted our first “Startup Call of Interest” event at City Lights Cinema (76 attended)
  3. Nov 12th: Hosted our first “RAIN Startup Seminar” at the Florence Events Center (26 attended)
RAIN’s Venture Catalyst Caroline Cummings has since met with nine entrepreneurs and innovators from the Florence area and is helping them craft their business plans, find co-founders, find mentors and partners, as well as helping some of them get ready to pitch for funding.

Examples of companies include: a mobile app that helps connect local farmers to consumers, a glass artist who has been asked to distribute her artwork into museums across the nation, and a seafood producer. We are also beginning to identify potential local angel investors and mentors – which are needed in order for a local entrepreneurial economy to flourish.

As a next step, Caroline Cummings and Jim Coonan met with Erin and Kelli to outline our strategy for hosting additional Meetups in early 2016 to keep the momentum going. We’ve also surveyed the attendees of the events and below are some of the key take-aways from the findings.

Survey findings:

Average Age: 55
Gender: 58% Male; 42% Female
Cities Represented:
Florence, Eugene, Waldport and Mapleton
Entrepreneur: 18%
Wannapreneur: 23% (A “Wannapreneur” is someone who has a big idea, but needs help launching)
Asked “If RAIN and the City of Florence provided a formal program to help you accelerate your startup business, would you be interested in attending?” 50% said “Yes”

Other partners from the area who have stepped up to support this outreach includes: Lane Community College, the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, and Joe Henry – Florence’s Mayor.

We’ve branded this exciting initiative as #StartupFloCo (for “Startup Florence Coast) on Twitter. Join the conversation! You can also join the “Startup Florence Oregon Coast Meetup” group to stay tuned to upcoming events.