Ready for RAIN?

Chantelle Meyer

Siuslaw News

Oct 23, 2015

The City of Florence, Lane Community College Florence Campus and the local Chamber of Commerce have started working with Oregon Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network (RAIN) to add a new element to economic development in the area.

The next public meeting with RAIN will be a “Call of Interest” on Wednesday, Oct. 28, from 5 to 7 p.m. at City Lights Cinemas. This event, which requires preregistration, will reach out to not only entrepreneurs, but also to an under-utilized resource in Florence: mentors.

“This is the piece that focuses on our innovators,” said Florence City Manager Erin Reynolds at the Oct. 19 city council meeting. “It’s just one aspect of our economic development initiative to help bring together the network and the ecosystem that will help stimulate innovative thinking.”

RAIN coordinates with traded sector companies to connect mentors and investors with new ideas in technology, the sciences, mobile device applications, fabrication and other industries.

“We want to wrap resources and services around you,” said Caroline Cummings at the first RAIN meetup at Homegrown Public House on Oct. 14.

Cummings is the venture catalyst for RAIN in the Lincoln, Lane, Benton and Linn county areas. Its first Florence meeting was attended by 17 residents seeking more information.

“We help entrepreneurs who are building traded sector companies. That is, someone who creates a business and the majority of the revenue comes from out of the area into the area,” Cummings said.

“This also creates jobs in the area,” Cummings said.

This facet is one leg of a “three-legged stool” that economic development movements target.

The three targeted areas are to recruit companies to move to the area, retain and expand existing businesses and bring in entrepreneurs and innovation.

“I came out here and talked with the city, LCC and Cal Applebee at the chamber. I said, ‘Look, this is the right time for economic development in Florence.’ Economic development is a goal of the city, particularly the third leg of the stool,” Cummings said.

Reynolds said, “While we are very caring about our existing businesses ... this is really looking at how we can grow and encourage a new way of thinking.”

Cummings wants to support young entrepreneurs, who are coming into ideas as they graduate high school or college, and what she calls “encore entrepreneurs,” or people who want to start their own business after earlier careers have ended.

At the Call of Interest, refreshments will be served while RAIN presents on the resources it will bring to “Startup Florence Coast.”

Existing startup companies and entrepreneurs will deliver pitches, investors will explain processes and what they look for, and Cummings will discuss ways to support these up-and-coming business ideas.

“As entrepreneurs, we’re not joiners. We’re working on what we’re working on with our heads down. Entrepre-neurs are the risk-takers. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It’s hard — on families, on everybody. We’re here to help alleviate some of that stress for you. ... If you get help, get mentors, your chances of success increase by 80 percent,” she said.

If you have an innovative design or business, want to support area startup companies, would like to invest or would like to know more, register for the event at www.ci.florence.or.us.

This article originally appeared on the Siuslaw News.

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