RAIN Receives $407K to Expand its Rural Venture Catalyst Model

RAIN Receives $407K to Expand its Rural Venture Catalyst Model

Contact: Matt Hollander, Oregon RAIN, matthew.a.hollander@gmail.com, 541-225-7032

For Immediate Release
August 23, 2018

Oregon RAIN Receives $407K to Expand its Rural Venture Catalyst Model for Entrepreneurial Development

Oregon RAIN—a social venture created to advance the formation of high-growth innovative startup companies in Lane, Linn, Benton, and Lincoln counties—has received a grant of $100,000 from The Ford Family Foundation to expand its Rural Venture Catalyst model for entrepreneurial development. Since the beginning of last fiscal year (July 2017), Oregon RAIN has received commitments totaling $407,000 to expand its Rural Venture Catalyst model.

In addition to The Ford Family Foundation award, Oregon RAIN has received $70,000 from the City of Lebanon as pass-through funds from Business Oregon’s Rural Opportunities Initiative, $20,000 from the Linn-Benton Collaborative cities (Adair Village, Brownsville, Halsey, Harrisburg, Lebanon, Monroe, Philomath, and Sweet Home), $50,000 from Lane County (as a match to The Ford Family Foundation dollars), $42,000 from the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network as pass-through funds from the Oregon Community Foundation, $20,000 from Benton County, $30,000 from the City of Florence, $20,000 from Lincoln County, and $5,000 from Oregon Pacific Bank. Linn County recently committed to joining the Linn-Benton Collaborative by providing $50,000 over two years and the City of Albany has inquired about supporting RAIN’s outreach in the region as well.

“On behalf of the entire Oregon RAIN community, I want to thank all of our funders for recognizing the incredible need to support entrepreneurs in small and rural Oregon communities. We firmly believe that good business ideas can come from anywhere, and our metrics from the past three years certainly support that belief. Since 2015, the 214 companies assisted through Oregon RAIN’s Rural Venture Catalyst model have created 285 jobs, generated $8.4 million in revenue, and raised $2.7 million in capital. We have enlisted over 200 mentors and engaged dozens of individual investors and 145 students to support these small communities. It truly takes a community to raise an entrepreneur, and it’s wonderful to see the communities stepping up to rally around them,” commented Caroline Cummings, Oregon RAIN’s Executive Director.  

Oregon RAIN venture catalysts connect entrepreneurs with strategic resources for launching and scaling business ventures, including making mentor connections, offering educational and training programs, and providing access to capital. Venture catalysts also promote broad community participation and support for the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. Oregon RAIN has found and supported startups in several small communities. industries range from consumer products, food and beverages, technology, and healthcare-focused companies.

The Ford Family Foundation also contributed $50,000 to Oregon RAIN’s Venture Catalyst Model in 2016.

“The Ford Family Foundation is delighted to continue supporting rural entrepreneurial development through Oregon RAIN’s Venture Catalyst Model. We recognize that entrepreneurship is critical for the growth of rural economies, it leads to job growth, and fosters strong communities. Oregon RAIN has shown they know how to catalyze entrepreneurial ecosystems in small and rural communities of Oregon, and that resonates with our desire to support economic vitality in rural communities” said Kathleen Flanagan, Senior Program Officer for The Ford Family Foundation.

Use of Funds

This funding is being used to expand Oregon RAIN’s Rural Venture Catalyst Model in Oregon’s mid-coast region, between Florence and Lincoln City. Oregon RAIN has been actively supporting this region since 2015. In July, RAIN organized the region’s first-ever Startup Weekend, which drew close to 50 participants. Coming this fall, Oregon RAIN will offer its second Coastal Pre-Accelerator, a 10-week bootcamp for founders of potentially high-growth startups. Additional specialized programing will be launched for the ten graduates of Oregon RAIN’s Coastal Pre-Accelerator’s first cohort (see RAIN’s Rural Entrepreneurial Development 2016-17 Case Study).

Funding will also go toward expanding Oregon RAIN’s outreach in Linn and Benton counties. This past June, Corey Wright was hired as the dedicated venture catalyst for the eight Linn-Benton Collaborative cities, and Brad Attig was hired as the part-time funding catalyst for early-stage companies in the same region. The funding that catalyzed this Collaborative was provided by Business Oregon’s Rural Opportunity Initiative (ROI) program, as well as from the 8 rural cities in the region (Adair Village, Brownsville, Halsey, Harrisburg, Lebanon, Monroe, Philomath, and Sweet Home).

Lastly, funding will allow Oregon RAIN to ramp-up efforts in East Lane County, including Lowell, Dexter, Oakridge and Westfir areas, where Oregon RAIN launched their Rural Entrepreneurial Development Model in October 2017. Lane County has stepped up to match half of The Ford Family Foundation’s award by contributing another $50,000 to support expansion in East Lane County as well as Florence (Lane County contributed $50,000 to Oregon RAIN over the last biennium as well).

“Oregon RAIN has consistently impressed us with their Venture Catalyst Model. Their ability to find hard-to-reach entrepreneurs in the rural areas of Lane County proves there are smart and innovative ideas coming out of our small communities, and we want to continue funding those efforts. We know net-new job creation comes from supporting startups, and Lane County wants to support programs who know how to reach and support these job creators,” said Sarah  Means, Community & Economic Development Manager at Lane County.

About Oregon RAIN:

The Oregon Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network (Oregon RAIN) is 501(c)3 non-profit organization that was founded to advance the formation of high-growth innovative startup companies that generate jobs, wealth, and opportunities for the state. Oregon RAIN, which is run by experienced entrepreneurs and angel investors, connects entrepreneurs with strategic resources for launching and scaling business ventures, including mentor connections, educational and training programs, and access to capital. Oregon RAIN also builds entrepreneurial ecosystems in partnership with cities, counties, the State, foundations, and private funders. Visit oregonrain.org to learn more.

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