Food & Beverage Cluster marks launch of a new strategy for building and strengthening industry-specific entrepreneurial communities across Oregon and Southwest Washington.
PORTLAND, Mar. 9, 2018 – The Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) today announced a pioneering approach to connect Oregon entrepreneurs with the people, programs, and services they need to succeed in their industries.
OEN is developing a new cluster strategy, connecting entrepreneurs, service providers, investors and industry influencers across Oregon with nonprofits, government organizations, and educational institutions and others who support the industries. Leadership teams from each cluster will work to identify potential gaps within industries, and promote the work and success of like-minded entrepreneurs across the state. OEN is launching this effort with a Food & Beverage cluster; food and beverage companies comprise a $16 billion statewide industry.
“OEN has long been known for serving the needs of entrepreneurs across all industries,” says Maggie Finnerty, OEN President and Executive Director. “For years, we have also been quietly working to help develop vibrant entrepreneurial communities in Central Oregon, the Willamette Valley, and Southern Oregon through our grant-funded Venture Catalyst initiative. Our new cluster strategy will help us leverage our growing network of Venture Catalysts, better tailor resources to entrepreneurs’ needs, and connect the dots between Oregon’s regional communities. There are a lot of great resources out there, but they are often hard to find. By convening entrepreneurs with organizations, educational programs, and investors along cluster lines, we will be able to help entrepreneurs in a given cluster connect to the right resources faster, and celebrate their success.”
Marissa Schwartz, OEN’s first Community Outreach Facilitator, is leading the development of the Food & Beverage cluster, which will be followed closely by a Cannabis cluster. Schwartz is developing partnerships with organizations and businesses throughout the state to inform OEN’s cluster-specific programming.
“Over the last few months, OEN has been busy convening community roundtables across Oregon,” says Schwartz. “It’s become clear that while all entrepreneurs share common needs, which have historically been OEN’s focus, food & beverage and cannabis entrepreneurs also face their own pain points and opportunities. These entrepreneurs are excited to connect with others in their cluster- especially those from other regions.”
OEN is granting entrepreneurs exclusive access to cluster-specific resources statewide through a members-only portal on the OEN website. This portal will feature a calendar of relevant networking, educational, and funding events happening statewide; a resource directory; an online forum; and will create a library of online educational programming.
“I am very excited to work with OEN to help connect and support food & beverage entrepreneurs across the state,” says Angela Goodstein, Facilitator of the Central Oregon Food Cluster, a networking and education group created to support the food entrepreneurs of Central Oregon. “The Food Cluster of Central Oregon strives to support the growth of our thriving local craft food and beverage industry by providing education, networking opportunities and by identifying and working to fill resources gaps. I know this group will benefit from the opportunity to connect to a broader network of entrepreneurs who share their unique challenges.”