(Photo above | John Harris)
The Bend-Redmond metro area in 2017 repeated its No. 1 ranking among small cities in the Milken Institute annual review of best performing cities. Noteworthy is the areas attraction of new entrepreneurs—small business start-ups.
SCORE-Central Oregon’s chairperson, John Harris, says, “We’re positioned strongly to help at no charge entrepreneurs and small business owners, and we are seeing an increase in mentor assistance—ten percent increase in clients last year over 2016.”
He adds, “With tax reform in the headlines, I like to think of SCORE’s business counsel as a return of the tax dollars allocated to the Small Business Administration to support SCORE and small businesses.”
The reporter who recently interviewed Linda McMahon, Administrator, Small Business Administration, editorially noted, “My biggest takeaway: small businesses owners like myself — and all those that employ more than half of the U.S. workforce and are responsible for two of every three new jobs — need to know more about her agency.”
Local SCORE leader Harris and the other certified mentors are scaling up to meet the demands of the regional economy and the uptick in clients’ requests. Expectations are that the client load will increase another ten percent this year.
Wink Jackson, Co-Vice Chair and specialist in social media communications, says, “Our goal is to find, interview and certify eight to ten more mentors in 2018 to give us a stable of twenty.” A chapter priority is to recruit and qualify more women mentors.
To connect with SCORE Central Oregon, an individual or business owner can go to www.score.org or www.centraloregon.score,org and register. Geographically situated registrants are assigned to the Central Oregon chapter and senior mentors assign a mentor to that registrant.
The Deschutes Public Library is also a valued resource for potential clients. SCORE business counselors are available every Tuesday from 5:30-7:30pm for free one-on-one counseling in the Meyer Classroom of the Downtown Bend Library. Individuals who operate or wish to start small businesses can discuss business planning, organization and start-up, finance, marketing and other critical business issues with SCORE volunteers in private, confidential sessions. No appointment necessary.
The local chapter offers mentors with experience in a variety of management functions and a variety of industries and businesses. The client ‘drives’ the mentoring time frame—covering issues in one session or working through a total startup process over months.
SCORE-Central Oregon is strengthening its partnership not only with the Deschutes Public Libraries, but also with EDCO, Redmond Economic Development, Inc.,(REDI) City of Bend, Opportunity Knocks, COCC’s Small Business Development Center and City of Sisters. These collaborative initiatives expand SCORE’s tool kit to refer clients to the best-fit business and management counsel available.
A recent REDI economic report states: “It is clear from REDI’s lens that companies with more consistent payrolls are all struggling to find talent so they’re welcoming this growth in labor force, whether from graduates, seasonal layoffs or in-migration.“
Bruce Barrett, SCORE mentor and member of REDI, says, “All of us at SCORE appreciate our need to step up and help small business owners grow their sales and provide new work experience for our labor force which is currently needed.”
Harris reports “SCORE mentors have a sense of being volunteers at the right time in the right place, and in using our experience and insight, to help neighbors and add to the economic strength of Central Oregon.”