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Economic Vitality

A strong economy is vital to every community in our state. To promote a thriving, sustainable future for Oregon, the OCF board of directors has expanded the Foundation’s priorities to include a statewide focus on jobs and the economy.

 
  • Overview

    Overview

    OCF's strategic focus on economic vitality complements our longstanding commitment to education and the needs of children and families.

    The Foundation is currently focusing on the following areas:

    • Developing a skilled workforce

    • Investing in quality job creation

    • Improving access to capital for small businesses and nonprofits

    • Engaging partners and donors in building our state's economy
       

    Staff Assistance

    For more information, please contact:

  • Latest News

    Latest News

    September 2014

    On September 23, a broad coalition dedicated to improving Oregon’s capital ecosystem released the 2014 Oregon Capital Scan: A Line is Drawn. This report compiles information about capital providers in Oregon to promote understanding of the availability of investment capital and identify where gaps exist.

    “Capital is an essential ingredient required to create jobs and grow our economy,” said Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler. “This report provides a clear picture of the capital landscape in Oregon and will help business, government and philanthropic leaders build economic development strategies that work.”

    The Oregon Capital Scan will educate entrepreneurs and growth company leaders about the variety and scale of capital sources currently available in the state. It is also a vital resource for policymakers and investors working to support the development of a thriving economy in Oregon.

    "Oregon's economic future depends on growing our own — our own companies, workforce, entrepreneurs and especially our own capital ecosystem. This report is critical to making sure the collective investment energies of public and private partners are focused in the right direction," said Sean Robbins, Director, Business Oregon.

    The report was made possible by a collaboration between OCF, Business OregonCTC|My CFOFoundations for a Better OregonMeyer Memorial Trust, the Oregon Growth Board, and the Oregon State Treasurer's Office. John Hull – the Executive Director of the Business Innovation Institute and Assistant Dean of the Lundquist College of Business at the University of Oregon – was the report’s lead author.  

    This is the second Oregon Capital Scan. The first report — Oregon Capital Scan: A Developing Ecosystem — was published in 2012.

    For more information, please contact:

    June 2014

    The Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) has announced its third round of statewide boot camps, which are funded by a grant from OCF. These intensive eight- to 12-week programs provide eligible companies with mentorship and education that helps them prepare for funding and growth, connect to capital and expertise, and add jobs to Oregon's economy. 

    “The Oregon Community Foundation’s grant is vital to creating a pipeline of fundable companies in the Oregon startup community—particularly in non-metropolitan areas," says Linda Weston, Executive Director of OEN. Forty companies have graduated from OEN's previous boot camps, and eight of these graduates have received more than $765,000 in investment. 

    May 2014

    • OCF is partnering with Meyer Memorial Trust to provide low-interest loans to Oregon nonprofits. OCF has committed $2 million for these loans. The board approved the first three loans this month, which totaled $425,000.
    • OCF committed $250,000 to Portland Seed Fund for their second fund. PSF is a privately managed fund and non-resident accelerator that provides emerging companies with capital, mentoring and connections to propel them to the next level.

    April 2014

    OCF invested $1 million in Craft3, a regional nonprofit that provides loans to Oregon entrepreneurs and small-business owners who lack access to traditional financing. In addition to offering financial resources, Craft3 provides underserved clients with business expertise, networks and advocacy.

     

  • Developing a Skilled Workforce

    Developing a Skilled Workforce

    In 2012, OCF invited organizations that connect youth with hands-on workplace experience to apply to our Community Grant Program, which has made more than $900,000 in grants relating to jobs and the economy since 2011.

    Funding decisions were announced in May 2013. Nineteen organizations received grants for mentoring, job shadowing and workplace development programs, many of which target high-risk students. Grantees include:

  • Investing in Quality Job Creation

    Investing in Quality Job Creation

    To drive quality job growth in Oregon, the Foundation allocates a portion of its $1.66 billion in assets under management to venture capital investments. Here is a timeline of OCF's investment in job creation.

    Grants

    OEN Boot Camps

    September 2012

    Gorge OEN’s Accelerator Boot Camp was launched to aid growth-oriented entrepreneurs in communities along the Columbia Gorge. This eight-week program was held at Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in The Dalles, and supported an additional five startups.

    In total, 21 companies graduated from OEN boot camps. In addition, the camps recruited and trained 101 volunteer mentors, coaches and content experts. The estimated value of in-kind volunteer contributions is $218,200. In light of these successes, OCF approved an additional grant of $50,000 in February 2013 to fund a second series of OEN boot camps.

    May 2012

    The JeffersonU boot camp, which took place in May 2012 at Medford's Higher Education Center, supported the growth and development of five regional startups. JeffersonU is a collaboration between Oregon Entrepreneurs NetworkSustainable Valley Technology GroupThe Jefferson Grapevine and Southern Oregon University Small Business Development Center.

    October 2011

    OCF awarded a $75,000 grant to the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network to develop "boot camp" programs for entrepreneurs in Bend, Medford and Hood River. These programs offer mentorship, coaching, education and benchmark metrics to help regional entrepreneurs structure, develop and launch new businesses. 

    The first OEN boot camp was held in Central Oregon through the Bend-based accelerator FoundersPad (formerly known as VentureBox). This boot camp helped 11 companies to grow, which in turn created 25 jobs and raised more than $625,000 in funding.

    Rural Job Creation

    OCF understands the significant challenges faced by Oregonians who rely on our resource-based economy. We also know that philanthropy can play an important role in supporting the sustainable use of natural resources. Therefore, OCF makes grants for collaborative projects that create jobs while improving the health of natural resources.

    Spring 2014

    • OCF awarded a $20,000 grant to the Western Juniper Utilization Group, a project aiming to remove invasive Juniper trees from Central and Eastern Oregon and create a stronger market for the wood.
    • OCF will invest up to $150,000 over three years in Sustainable Northwest to provide technical assistance to groups working collaboratively on agreements to thin forests and protect Oregon's environment.
    • OCF will invest up to $300,000 over three years in Wallowa Resources.

    Business Development

    In spring 2012, the OCF board approved a $50,000 matching grant to Albina Opportunities Corporation, a nonprofit business development organization that provides loans to women-, immigrant-, minority- and disabled-owned small businesses. The board was particularly impressed with AOC's Business Advisors program, which matches borrowers with qualified mentors. In February 2013, the board approved an additional $100,000 grant to capitalize AOC and position it to leverage loan funds from other organizations.

    Early-Stage Investments

    2014

    May 2014

    OCF committed $250,000 to Portland Seed Fund for their second fund. PSF is a privately managed fund and non-resident accelerator that provides emerging companies with capital, mentoring and connections to propel them to the next level.

    2013

    October 2013

    OCF made a matching investment of $20,000 in the 10th annual Bend Venture Conference, which took place on October 17 and 18 at the historic Tower Theatre in downtown Bend. The top investment award of $250,000 went to Nouvola, a Portland-based tech firm that offers stress testing and performance analytics for cloud-based services. Nouvola is a graduate of FoundersPad, a Central Oregon technology accelerator that has also received support from OCF.

    Spring 2013

    OCF invested $20,000 in the 2013 Southern Oregon Angel Investment Network's annual prize fund. In April 2013, the $220,000 investment award went to JettStream, a Bend firm that has created an innovative medication dispenser for children with asthma.

    The board also approved a $20,000 investment in the 2013 Willamette Angel Conference, which was held on May 9, 2013, at the CH2M Hill Alumni Center on OSU's Corvallis campus. The top investment award of $255,000 went to Sonivate Medical, a medical device startup that has developed an innovative ultrasound probe.

    February 2013

    OCF announced an additional three-year annual grant of $750,000 to OAF, contingent on annual board approval. OAF has a strong track record over five years of investing and is managed by an experienced team that includes Eric Rosenfeld, Lynn Fletcher and Scott Sandler. 

    OCF also invested $250,000 in Voyager Capital's Fund IV, which supports early-stage tech firms in Oregon.

    2012

    October 2012

    OCF announced a $25,000 matching investment in the Bend Venture Conference 2012, LLC. This investment will help to fund the Launch Stage winner, and was contingent on the BVC raising more than $100,000 from individual investors. “For entrepreneurs, BVC provides invaluable education, exposure and networking opportunities,” said Jim Coonan, Venture Catalyst Manager at Economic Development for Central Oregon and lead organizer of the conference. “We’re gratified that The Oregon Community Foundation sees value in funding grassroots efforts for entrepreneurs.”

    Spring 2012

    OCF contributed $20,000 to the prize fund for the Southern Oregon Angel Investment Network's annual investment competition. On April 11, the $160,000 prize was awarded to Montrue Technologies, an Ashland tech firm that has developed an iPad-based information management system for hospital emergency departments. A concept grant comprising $7,500 in cash and prizes went to Rogue Valley Innovations of Grants Pass for its invention of Ladder-Tite, a safety device for extension ladders. This grant included tuition for two to JeffersonU, one year of office space and mentorship from Sustainable Valley Business Accelerator, and $2,500 in cash from CFO Solutions-NW.

    March 2012

    OCF announced a $1 million investment in Oregon Angel Fund 2012, LLC.

     

  • Engaging Partners and Donors

    Engaging Partners and Donors

    Oregon Capital Scan

    The Foundation partnered with Business Oregon, CTC|My CFO, Foundations for a Better OregonMeyer Memorial Trust, the Oregon Growth Board, and the Oregon State Treasury to conduct the Oregon Capital Scan, which incorporates quantitative and qualitative data on the current status of Oregon's capital ecosystem.

    On September 23, 2014, OCF and Meyer Memorial Trust hosted a conversation on the results of the 2014 Oregon Capital Scan, with a focus on sharing ideas and strategies for addressing statewide capital gaps.

    The previous study — entitled Oregon Capital Scan: A Developing Ecosystem — was conducted in 2012.

    For more information, please contact:

    Impact Investing

    On December 5, 2012, OCF convened a group of advised-fund donors and guests to participate in a fast-pitch session focused on current opportunities for impact investing. Representatives from DePaul IndustriesFarmers Conservation AllianceMercyCorps Northwest, and Albina Opportunities Corporation each presented brief pitches to attendees to increase awareness of the various ways in which philanthropy can improve Oregon's economy.