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Oregon Frontier Chamber of Commerce awarded $75,000 grant

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The Business Oregon grant will provide technical assistance to businesses in the tri-county region

The Oregon Frontier Chamber of Commerce (formerly Condon Chamber of Commerce) is on a roll. After being awarded a $60,000 grant by Business Oregon’s Rural Opportunity Initiative (ROI) in November, the chamber has now been awarded the Business Oregon Technical Assistance (TA) grant for $75,000.

Business Oregon made the announcement on January 11th.

The Business Oregon TA grant is for historically under-served and under-resourced small businesses across the state. In total, the TA grant will provide $8.75 million for 33 organizations in Oregon.

The Oregon Frontier Chamber of Commerce will use the funds to help businesses in Gilliam, Wheeler and Sherman counties to access specific professional services.

Oregon Frontier Chamber of Commerce Executive Director K’Lynn Lane said that businesses will get direct assistance to meet their specific needs.

Examples include:

  • website creation, Google My Business and support in creating an online presence
  • technology services and support
  • graphic design for logos, signage and menus
  • legal support and accessing attorneys
  • bookkeepers and certified public accountants
  • and other professional services that will help businesses scale or go from surviving to thriving.

The TA grant program was established by the 2021 Oregon Legislature and builds on a federally funded pilot program to help businesses respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The organizations selected serve historically under-served communities as outlined in Governor Kate Brown’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan.

TA providers are selected biennially through a competitive Request for Applications process and reflect the program’s goals of ensuring small business assistance is widely available and accessible. Services provided by these organizations help to ensure that economic recovery and growth is equitable and does not perpetuate long-standing disparities.

The Oregon Frontier Chamber will utilize the two grants in conjunction and together, the Condon Chamber believes that they can better identify the needs of businesses in the tri-county area and then provide specific support to help businesses overcome hurdles.

The Rural Opportunities Initiative (ROI) grant will increase collaboration between 11 frontier communities across Gilliam, Wheeler and Sherman counties. The Chamber will map the local ecosystem and cultivate stakeholder support for a strategic plan for entrepreneur driven economic development.

The Condon Chamber will use the ROI grant to hire two employees – one in Sherman County and one in Wheeler County.

Lane is calling these employees “Rural Ambassadors” and they will be working to identify businesses that need additional support in making their business viable or scaling to reach its potential.

The Condon Chamber is also in the process of renaming and rebranding itself. The chamber has been working to promote businesses and communities in Gilliam, Wheeler and Sherman counties and is close to finalizing a new name to reflect these changes. Updates on that will be provided as they come.

The chamber is also working with the Gilliam County Court to initiate the Small Business Grant Program. The proposed program would dedicate $75,000 a year over three years to support businesses in Gilliam County. The Gilliam County Court discussed the Small Business Grant Program on January 19th and additional information will be provided in the next edition of The Times-Journal.

Finally, the chamber is happy to provide additional retail options in Condon with the growth of the Mezzanine inside the Dunn Brothers building, where the chamber is headquartered.

When the Condon Chamber moved into the Dunn Brothers Building in April of 2021, Lane wanted to invite local businesses and entrepreneurs to sell their wares inside the chamber. Connie Ramsey, who has been working part-time at the chamber, reports that 22 vendors are now selling their products in the building. There are a wide variety of goods available, and visitors and locals are encouraged to come in and shop local.

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