SEVERE WX : Wind Advisory View Alerts

Small Change: Southern Oregon's Small Businesses Speak Out

A local entrepreneur says that there are still many stumbling blocks to owning a business in the Rogue Valley, but some things have improved over the last 10 years.

Posted: May 17, 2018 6:07 PM
Updated: Jan 9, 2019 5:11 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. — When Norm Kester looks out on his humming factory each day, he sees a business he built from the ground up. He also sees a location perched perfectly just outside the grounds of Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport.

Kester admits that one of the main draws to the area for many people is the gorgeous scenery and the easy access to the outdoors. Still, he explains, there is much that can be done in the area to encourage and promote small businesses.

WalletHub is a personal finance website based in Washington, D.C. It recently evaluated just over 1,200 small-sized cities with less than 100,000 people. It ranked them according to the best place to start a small business based on 18 key metrics ranging from average growth in number of small businesses to investor access to labor costs. Medford came in 430th place.

As Jill Gonzalez with WalletHub explained, that’s pretty good. It’s definitely in the top half, and almost in the top third. “Where it seems to be struggling slightly is access to resources,” says Gonzalez. “That includes things like financing, investors, higher education assets, and workforce attainment.”

Joan McBee is a professor and the Chair of Southern Oregon University’s School of Business. She understands how small businesses in the Rogue Valley often struggle to secure financing to get their company off the ground or to bring it to the next level. Plus, as she explains, “I hear a lot of complaints from employers that they can’t find qualified workers. And I hear workers or potential workers say they can’t find a job. So I don’t know what the problem is but they’re not matching up.”

Fortunately, McBee says there are resources for anyone thinking about starting their own small business. One of the best in the area is the Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc, or SOREDI.

Colleen Padilla is the executive director of SOREDI. “We have many, many entrepreneurs doing really cool things in our region," claims Padilla. “They don’t just necessarily know about each other. And that’s another role of SOREDI, to help businesses prosper.”

SOREDI helps bridge that gap, allowing businesses to “talk” to one another more effectively. They also hold a variety of events and seminars to help new businesses owners prosper. One such event includes allowing people to attend a faux pitch meetings. It allows new owners to get practice presenting their ideas a products so they’ll be ready when the real pressure is on.

Norm Kester is one of those business owners working to help elevate the profile of businesses in southern Oregon. He’s the owner of Quantum Innovation. This world-class company manufactures and operates equipment that uses vacuum-applied thin film technology. Simply put, they make lenses work better.

Kester remarks how there is much more available in the Rogue Valley than 10 years ago, but explains that it still has weak points—like affordable housing, attracting top talent, and hiring workers with the right skills.

Mindy Hvall experiences the daily trials and tribulations of being a small business owner. She decided to open Bubbles & Bows Grooming and Boutique for pets out of her desire to love animals and express herself creatively. Every day she takes people’s prized pets from drab to fab by washing and grooming them until they sparkle.

Hvall loves what she does but admits that it’s the little things that stress her out. “Most of my struggles are wages going up, insurance, taxes,” she details. “They say there are a lot of tax relief for small business owners but I haven’t found them.”

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 188417

Reported Deaths: 2509
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah37445577
Washington24988229
Marion21516303
Clackamas16869209
Lane12607145
Jackson10613131
Deschutes837073
Umatilla811284
Linn468766
Yamhill434875
Klamath418660
Polk365752
Malheur348561
Josephine328167
Douglas319270
Benton298519
Jefferson214633
Coos203932
Columbia167726
Union143923
Lincoln136520
Wasco136228
Hood River117230
Morrow109715
Crook103120
Clatsop9638
Baker92714
Curry6369
Tillamook6313
Grant4984
Lake4427
Harney3328
Wallowa1785
Sherman581
Gilliam571
Wheeler261
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3750644

Reported Deaths: 62070
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123424223957
Riverside2988724576
San Bernardino2962574668
San Diego2770973716
Orange2705074979
Santa Clara1185932073
Kern1088221361
Sacramento1035951667
Fresno1014511677
Alameda873721539
Ventura807761009
San Joaquin727241382
Contra Costa68212799
Stanislaus616811050
Tulare49496837
Monterey43490381
San Mateo41708567
San Francisco36550541
Santa Barbara34250453
Solano32642249
Merced31682454
Sonoma29921318
Imperial28276720
Kings22911246
Placer22386290
San Luis Obispo21222260
Madera16418242
Santa Cruz16029207
Marin14000228
Yolo13820208
Shasta11987225
Butte11883198
El Dorado10067110
Napa982481
Sutter9386111
Yuba620944
San Benito604063
Lassen569324
Tehama553858
Nevada465675
Tuolumne411564
Mendocino405548
Humboldt390339
Amador365047
Lake345443
Glenn237925
Colusa222116
Siskiyou213421
Calaveras210853
Inyo142438
Del Norte13537
Mono12784
Plumas7046
Modoc4934
Mariposa4457
Trinity3995
Sierra1120
Alpine880
Unassigned440
Medford
Partly Cloudy
71° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 71°
Brookings
Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 48°
Crater Lake
Partly Cloudy
71° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 71°
Grants Pass
Partly Cloudy
71° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 71°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 72°
Cooler and windy Thursday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events

Latest Video

Image

Thursday, May 6 morning weather

Image

Wednesday, May 5th Evening Weather

Image

Triple Tree Restaurant set to reopen on Friday

Image

HealthWatch: Mental health awareness

Image

HealthWatch: Preventing sports injuries

Image

Wednesday, May 5 morning weather

Image

Tuesday, May 4th Evening Weather

Image

FYI: Oregon Dept. of Education

Image

Tuesday, May 4 morning weather

Image

Monday, May 3rd Evening Weather