SWEET HOME — As a business adviser with Linn-Benton Community College, George Medellin often has said Highway 20 is lined with gold and leads to Sweet Home.
He added that opportunities for local and new businesses to flourish are within sight.
Medellin and others recently shared that vision with members of the Sweet Home City Council, as they asked to use the current City Hall at 1140 12th Ave. as a shared business space incubator, much like the Corvallis Foundry.
Within weeks, city staff will move into a newly renovated City Hall, the former Sweet Home Ranger District building at 3225 Highway 20. Although the decision to move was made because the current building, constructed in 1954, has issues including settling and mold, it can still be used for a few years, officials said.
If the shared space concept works, the operation could then move into another building.
In addition to his LBCC job, Medellin is also volunteer president of the Sweet Home Chamber of Commerce. He sees the shared workspace concept as an opportunity to show prospective businesses the community is “open for business” and wants to help them succeed.
Medellin said a similar shared workspace project in Stayton has paid off handsomely for that community.
Over the last two years, Medellin has helped improve communications of economic development groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network (RAIN), the Sweet Home Economic Development Group (SEHDG) and the Sweet Home Active Revitalization Effort (SHARE).
Medellin said the shared workspace concept would fit in well with business education programs offered by LBCC and its Small Business Development Center. He said the center's “Going into Business” seminars have been popular and another session is scheduled for May 28. He and Marlene Peterson are also leading a nine-month small business management class for East Linn County.
The incubator would offer low rents to businesses and the opportunity to connect with other entrepreneurs and business development experts.
Medellin has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and pastoral ministry and a master’s degree in organizational psychology. He owned and operated a property maintenance company for 12 years in the Seattle, Washington, area, so he brings real-world business experience to his LBCC advisory position.
“The key things people planning to go into business need to do is to be willing to ask questions and to listen,” he said. “They also can’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Those things could be more easily accomplished if those business start-ups are in the same building with access to one other and information providers.
Medellin added that prospective business owners should also be honest with themselves.
“They need to be clear when it comes to what they want their end game to be,” he said. “What do they want their life to be about?”
Council members agreed the concept was worth considering and instructed city staff to research it further.