Collaboration working to support business

When Collaboration Works to Support Business in Eugene by Dana Siebert 

Eugene, Oregon is a rich town, perhaps not in the traditional sense, but measurable in its special ethos that attracts and retains people and families, as well as the creative, forward-thinking and fast-acting minds that choose to embrace it. It is critical for our city and its residents that we blend Eugene’s culture into a climate that fosters economic development in order to grow and thrive. Oregon RAIN (Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network), and those driving it are accomplishing just that through a successful collaboration between the public and private sectors.

Oregon RAIN, a priority project of the Oregon Governor’s Regional Solutions network, leverages community, university and business to create an ecosystem of resources and mentoring for entrepreneurs. By influencing the entrepreneurial spirit and a culture of innovation through mentorship, RAIN has stimulated economic development in Oregon’s South Willamette Valley and Mid-Coast region – creating new opportunities, new jobs and ultimately replenishing the ecosystem for future growth.

Since its inception in 2013 RAIN has assisted 375 companies. Those companies in the same period of time have created 212 new jobs in our region and generated nearly eight and a half million dollars in revenue. These numbers directly represent the progress of RAIN and its impact on economic development in our region.

As Chairperson for Oregon RAIN I am proud of these results as evidence of our progress and confident they are just the beginning of the positive impact our region will feel from the efforts of our initiatives. RAIN relies on four key components to feed the entrepreneurial eco-system encouraging long-term economic growth: entrepreneurs and ideas; programs to nurture those entrepreneurs and ideas; a network of support and mentorship; and capital to be invested and to educate potential investors on opportunities. We have witnessed considerable and consistent growth in each of these categories, and because of this, we have experienced an increase in applicants to our Accelerator programs from more advanced businesses. To date our network has engaged 1769 students, 173 mentors and 76 angel investors and our startups have raised seventeen millions dollars in capital to support the growth of their businesses.

There are many catalysts to be credited with the formation and development of RAIN. Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce President Dave Hauser and the Vice President for Innovation and Research at the University of Oregon, along with the same team in Corvallis and Oregon State University, represent a unique alliance between the City, the Chamber and the University. They aligned around the common goal of the creation and continued growth of business in the region by bolstering an entrepreneurial eco-system to drive economic growth.

It is exactly this collaboration that helped RAIN take flight. Through the vision and leadership of these individuals, their comprised knowledge and their respective institutions, RAIN has been able to marry public and private resources in support of its goals. One example is how RAIN has impressively raised $1.30 for every dollar provided by the state, showing how the community is supportive of entrepreneurship and innovation as key drivers to our economy. RAIN’s founding leadership team serves as a united and visible voice for innovation-based economic growth through the application of real action and resources in support of entrepreneurs as the key to our region and our state.

Just last month, RAIN Eugene welcomed the fourth and newest cohort to its new headquarters at 942 Olive Street. RAIN Eugene shares the co-working space with the University of Oregon’s Tyler Invention Greenhouse and Product Design Program. Emphasizing innovation, partnership and opportunity, the 12,800 square foot building recently underwent a $3 million renovation partially funded by $1.25 million allocated by the state Legislature through RAIN. The entire initiative was made possible by the one-dollar sale of the building to the University of Oregon by the city of Eugene through its urban renewal agency.

The success of RAIN has now attracted a special place where entrepreneurialism can happen by the sharing of ideas and innovations, a lasting symbol of the progress and impact of RAIN made possible through the collaboration between the city of Eugene, the Chamber of Commerce and the University of Oregon.

Dana Siebert is Executive Vice President of Green Corp Energy and serves as Board Chairperson for Oregon RAIN (Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network: