Creswell, Here to Help

Nonprofit could make it RAIN success in Creswell

CRESWELL – As the seasons change in Creswell, so do the opportunities to network and thrive. Last week, the City of Creswell hosted a free luncheon with guests from Oregon Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network (RAIN).
Representatives from RAIN met with at least a dozen interested members of the community to inform them about the free support that is available to rural business owners, entrepreneurs and local investors.
RAIN is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting innovative, local-impact startup companies in rural communities that could use a boost.
Through RAIN’s Rural Venture Catalyst programs, they aim to do just that. RAIN Executive Director Caroline Cummings said the goal of the program is to ”build entrepreneurial ecosystems and innovation economies” throughout rural Oregon.
RAIN is plugged into 18 rural communities and five city regional areas including Albany, Florence, Lincoln City, Linn and Benton counties, and Oakridge and Lowell.
Community members request to learn more via RAIN’s website, and that gets the ball rolling.
According to City Manager Michelle Amberg, Creswell is ready for the stimulus that RAIN can provide. ”I’d like to see (Creswell) thrive. We have a lot of empty spaces downtown,” Amberg said. ”We have opportunities for entrepreneurs to fill those spaces.”
By first holding information sessions such as this one, the team at RAIN is able to connect with local residents about what their needs are individually and as a community. Cummings, who is also RAIN’s venture catalyst manager, said it is important to assess the situation before jumping right in to a plan. Taking this extra time and effort enables the best chances of success by laying a solid foundation.
By being responsive instead of reactive to the need for growth, RAIN helps the risk-takers, job creators and change-makers in the community fine-tune their efforts and connects them to investors in ways they would not otherwise have had the opportunity to do.
”This could give consistency to our efforts over a long period of time,” Amberg said. ”It could provide access to capital and mentoring that is not already happening.”
As the presentation unfolded, Cummings and her associate, Oregon Venture Catalyst Ariel Ruben, explored a slew of strategic resources available to Creswell entrepreneurs should they choose to proceed.
RAIN, which is run by successful entrepreneurs and ”angel” investors, plugs enterprising business owners in with ways to launch and scale business ventures, not only with accessible capital funding, but also educational and training programs and mentoring connections.
In efforts to build thriving economies, RAIN helps communities build economic strength by keeping business close to home and encouraging variety in venture ideas. Ruben is a key player in the program, managing outreach efforts for the Oregon Mid-Coast Region (Florence up through Lincoln City). She works one-on-one with people to find their passions, and helps build them into thriving opportunities for individuals and their communities at large.
Other key factors to success, according to Cummings, are RAIN’s long-term commitment to their team’s in the communities and the inclusion of anyone and everyone who wants to participate.
To participate in RAIN’s Rural Venture Catalyst programs, the next step for Creswell is a vote from Creswell City Council to approve to collaboration between the city and RAIN.
Those in attendance Tuesday – restaurant owners, a chiropractor, a couple graphic designers and more – voiced enthusiasm about the possibilities of building individual businesses and the local economy.
”Don’t do it alone,” Cummings emphasized, ”you need the support.”



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