Senate Republican Leader Calls on Gov. to Invest in Rural and Suburban Startups
Monday, August 31, 2015
As GoLocal reported last week, Gov. Brown’s office announced a new inclusive for minority-owned startups in the state’s biggest metropolis.
The fund, organized and created by the Portland Development Commission and Multnomah County, received a $250,000 investment from the Governor’s office, along with a pair of $500,000 investments from the PDC and Multnomah County.
Share the Funds
In a statement, Sen. Ferrioli called on Gov. Brown’s office to invest in startups outside of the Portland Metropolitan area, including suburban and rural areas around the state.
"Investing in startup businesses is a crucial component of supporting small, home-grown businesses in Oregon," he said. "But allowing Portland-area startups access to this benefit without offering it to businesses statewide highlights the Portland-centric mentality of our Governor and Democrat leaders. Governor Brown should allocate an additional $500,000 immediately for Oregon's rural and suburban areas."
Sen. Ferrioli pointed out that Portland contains lest than 16 percent of the state’s residents. He said those that live outside the city often miss out on economic opportunity.
"It's time we stop favoring Portland with investments and incentives not available to other areas and give rural Oregon a chance to thrive," he said.
Last week, Ryan Frank, a spokesman for Business Oregon, told GoLocal that the Governor’s office is currently working to start a similar program for residents outside of Portland.
“There is no fund in place now, but the plan is to work on a similar fund in rural Oregon,” he said. “There is a recognition from the governor and her staff that we need to do more in rural Oregon to help startups.”
He admitted that not much is decided about the rural fund, which is still in the early-planning stage. He did say the rural fund would operate differently, as it will cover a larger, more spread out area than the PDC fund.
Related Slideshow: 10 Takeaways From Portland’s Startup Week
In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights from Portland's Startup Week:
Women in Tech
The low number of women in the tech industry has become a national issue. At Portland’s Startup Week, events addressed what businesses and women can do about it.
Ingrid Alongi, Co- CEO of Quick Left, gave a presentation outlining ways companies can better include and encourage women in a male-dominated field. Interviewing techniques, team-building exercises, and open feedback channels were some of her seven ways leadership can address the problem.
“I wanted to talk about it on a personal level. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to do these things that are really impactful,” Alongi said.
A separate panel of local tech women professionals discussed ways to get women interested in the industry as well.
There may have been serious discussions and topics, but there were plenty of opportunities to cut loose and have fun. Every night, some sort of happy hour or party gave techies and startups the chance to mingle and enjoy food and drink.
PDX Code Guild Founder Sheri Dover said her organization’s party on Monday night was a great opportunity for new talent and experienced advisors to get to know eachother.
“It helps to get everyone together in the same room and build community,” Dover said.
Portland is a booming tech scene, but many tech companies are scrambling to find talented people to fill positions. Participants discussed ways to attract successful talent to the city and state. Founders and tech professionals agreed there are plently open seats to fill in the city.
Brian Henessy, the founder of Thread, said that many young adults move to the state for lifestyle reasons, rather than to make a fortune. Working with staff to meet their needs is one way businesses can draw employees, Henessy said.
New Generations in Tech
One way to get the needed talent is to create it. Part of Startup Week was to interest young adults or people seeking a change into starting a tech career. Dover said their event and others show people they can start a tech career without a computer science degree.
“In hopes to create more talent, you need to appeal to students and teach skills to help change the tech world,” Dover said.
Scott Kveton and The Cancled Event
A panel discussion by Ignite Bridgetown was canceled, surrounding a controversy with Scott Kevton.
When CEO of Qcut Crystal Beasley heard that Former Urban Airship CEO Scott Kveton, who stepped down last year after rape accusations, would be a speaker at Ignite Bridgetown, she reached out to organizers.
“It was way too soon for [Kveton] to represent the Portland tech scene,” Beasley said.
After organizers told Beasley the event would still include Kveton, she wrote a post on her blog protesting his involvement and the struggle of women in the tech industry.
Kevton then posted his own statement denying accusations against him, but removing himself from the event,“out of respect for the community.”
Afterwards, Ignite canceled the event, apologizing for any damage they may have caused.
Many organizations involved, such as UpGlobal who hosted the week, specialize in building, supporting and mentoring startups. These organizations are dedicated to helping Portland’s startup scene get the help it needs.
However, Hennessy observed there seemed to be more of those organizations involved than actual startups.
Startups who gathered for the week not only got the chance to share about their own companies, but also to learn and hear from others. Henessy said it was encouraging to see common themes at the events and discussions, revealing other startups had similar feelings and experiences.
“It feels good to know you’re not alone,” Henessy said.
Several startups held open houses during the week, giving people the chance to explore companies in Portland. Krystal South is the program manager of Oregon Story Board.
"Portland Startup Week brought the startup community to multiple locations throughout the city,” South said. “I was able to visit companies and spaces that I wouldn't have seen otherwise. It was great to see startups and entrepreneurs in their natural environments."
Bigger Than Portland
Although it was Portland Startup Week, companies from across Oregon came to the event. One discussion, “Startup Week Is Every Week, And Not Just In Portland,” featured startup-leaders sharing challenges from operating outside the metro area, and ways to create businesses in rural Oregon.
It also brought visitors from out-of-state.
"I met multiple people who were visiting Portland for Startup Week, who were interested in moving or starting their businesses in Oregon," South said. "Startup Week was a great cross-section of the community events that happen in the city year-round."
Start of a Culture
This was the first Startup Week for Portland, but attendees feel the event will continue to expand and evolve in years to come. Although the time was productive, Henessy said the event has room to grow.
With the positive energy surrounding the week, Henessy said he would not be surprised to see it acquire the culture and enthusiasm that surrounds Portland’s Design Week.
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- Portland Development Commission Announces Inclusive Startup Fund
- Startups Become Shrinking Portion of Oregon Business
- Ten Takeaways From Portland’s Startup Week