Linn-Benton Communities Continue Funding Oregon RAIN’s Program for Regional Startups

Contact: Corey Wright, Venture Catalyst with Oregon RAIN, corey@oregonrain.org, 503-507-8812

For Immediate Release

July 31, 2019

Oregon RAIN (Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network) is pleased to announce the launch of the second year of its Rural Entrepreneurial Development Program in Linn and Benton Counties. Corey Wright, Oregon RAIN’s Venture Catalyst, will continue implementing the program with the goal of building and scaling up an inclusive startup ecosystem by connecting Linn and Benton County entrepreneurs and innovators to the resources they need to launch and scale their business ventures.

Implementation of Oregon RAIN’s Rural Entrepreneurial Development Program in Linn and Benton Counties began last year when eight rural Linn-Benton cities (Adair Village, Brownsville, Halsey, Harrisburg, Lebanon, Monroe, Philomath, and Sweet Home) were awarded $70,000 from Business Oregon’s Rural Opportunities Initiative (ROI) to partner with Oregon RAIN. The Rural Entrepreneurial Development Program provides free support to entrepreneurs, innovators, startups, and small businesses. In addition to the ROI funding received to operate the program, each of the eight participating Linn-Benton cities provided funding for the program and Oregon RAIN raised additional programming funds from The Ford Family Foundation, Linn County, and Benton County. 

Philomath entrepreneur John Marr, CEO of augmented reality company Varlio, said, “In 2018, I connected with Corey and he helped me by providing training in high-level, broad-brush business concepts, as well as detailed instruction concerning positioning and pitching one’s business for venture capital. With Corey’s assistance, I’ve better defined Varlio’s mission and vision, and found a clearer path towards the future.” Marr recently closed his first significant round of capital and has landed his first paying customer.

In the program’s first year, it successfully exceeded all of its goals, including:

  • Identifying over 90 entrepreneurs.
  • Hosting 50 events across the region to promote and support entrepreneurship.
  • Engaging 200+ ecosystem builders (community members, local business leaders, government leaders, mentors, speakers, investors, and angel investors). 
  • Completing 5 surveys to gather information about startup activity and assess the needs of the region’s entrepreneurs. 
  • Providing workshops on best practices for creating and building entrepreneurship and innovation in small and rural communities.

Alysia Rodgers, Economic Development Catalyst for the City of Lebanon said, “The amount of work Corey has done in the first year was so impactful it was an easy decision for Lebanon to continue on with a second year of the Rural Entrepreneurial Development Program in the Linn-Benton group of eight cities. We look forward to partnering further and seeing what successes come from the next year.”

The Linn-Benton eight cities, Linn County, and Benton County have all committed to fund the program for two more years, and Oregon RAIN is working to secure additional funding. The City of Albany has invited Oregon RAIN into their city as well, and is helping to strengthen the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. In the coming year, Oregon RAIN will scale up implementation of its Rural Entrepreneurial Development Program in the region, with a special focus on:

  • Collaborating with regional partner organizations.
  • Growing the mentor network to increase the number of mentors available to provide valuable guidance to Linn-Benton entrepreneurs. 
  • Identifying and training individuals of high net-worth to become angel investors who will invest in regional startups.
  • Developing a microgrant program to assist financially disadvantaged entrepreneurs.
  • Training community and business leaders on how to build a healthy startup ecosystem.

“I’m excited to continue serving the amazing entrepreneurs and startups in these communities. It’s gratifying to be working with leaders and entrepreneurs who have a long-term commitment to building a collaborative entrepreneurial ecosystem. I’m looking forward to building on the progress we made last year and I’ll be working hard to showcase the Linn-Benton region as a great place for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses,” said Wright.

To follow entrepreneurial activities for this region visit:

About Oregon RAIN

Oregon RAIN is a private non-profit with a mission to partner with Oregon communities to catalyze entrepreneurial ecosystems, connect entrepreneurs to resources (including overlooked entrepreneurs), and contribute to the creation of prosperous economies.

Our vision is that:

  • Communities support, value, and celebrate entrepreneurs.
  • Regional leaders recognize entrepreneurs are a primary creator of net new jobs.
  • Small and rural communities in Oregon have thriving economies.
  • A culture of possibilities is embraced.