Downtown Philomath

Through a series of public meetings over the past several months on issues such as the budget and city expansion, Mayor Rocky Sloan said during a meeting early this year that the message he took away from residents was that Philomath needed to focus on economic development.

The city council included in its strategic plan the goal to “create an encouraging environment for the development and expansion of desired businesses” and to “collaborate with organizations focused on business retention, expansion, startup development and entrepreneurship to establish new firms and strengthen existing businesses.”

Enter a project that is being funded by a $70,000 grant from Business Oregon, plus $20,000 in matching funds from Philomath and seven other rural communities in Benton and Linn counties. United by the Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network, the coalition will soon be hiring a full-time venture catalyst to find financial support for budding entrepreneurs.

The eight participating communities, which also include Adair Village, Brownsville, Halsey, Harrisburg, Lebanon, Monroe and Sweet Home, have a combined population of fewer than 40,000 residents. There were 41 grant applications statewide and 11 received funding.

“On behalf of the eight cities, I want to express my gratitude to Business Oregon and the Rural Opportunities Initiative selection committee for choosing Linn-Benton as one of the funding recipients,” Monroe City Administrator Rick Hohnbaum said through a news release. “We invested a lot of time and spirit in the application process and it was very rewarding to find that they agreed and want to support our vision of a regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

According to Caroline Cummings, RAIN interim executive director, the venture catalyst will “connect regional entrepreneurs with strategic resources for launching and scaling business ventures, including mentor connections, educational and training programs and access to capital.”

A full description of position expectations and job application can be found at Applications are due by May 25.

The position will pay $6,250 to $7,500 per month, plus benefits. It is a 12-month contracted position.

RAIN is a nonprofit organization in Lane, Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties. It was founded by the Oregon Regional Solutions network and was funded by the Legislature to advance the formation of high-growth start-up companies in the four counties.

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Alex Paul of the Albany Democrat-Herald contributed to this story.