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The Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network (RAIN), a state and regionally funded entrepreneurial support organization, has partnered with local stakeholders to offer assistance to East Linn County startups. 

The organization has scheduled two meetups for local entrepreneurs to learn about resources to help grow their business and network with other innovators who are launching or assisting companies in East Linn County at Conversion Brewing, 833 Main St. from 5:30 to to 6:30 p.m. on April 4 at and Sweet Home Sugar Vibes, 1302 Long St. from 9 to 10 a.m. on April 20. 

The type of people who should attend the meeting are entrepreneurs, inventors, craftsman, any small business owner who would like to expand outside of Oregon, and anyone who has a big idea for a business and who wants to sell outside of Lebanon to bring jobs to Lebanon, said Caroline Cummings Venture Catalyst and who is organizing the push into Lebanon.

“Say someone at Lowe’s (Distribution Center)  has an idea for a rocking chair, and it does something really cool. It’s connected to the iPhone or does something interesting, that would be someone we would work with,” Cummings said. “Someone who has a really cool idea or an invention, and they’re not sure what to do, they’re just not good at business. They don’t know how to do marketing; they don’t know how to do sales, but they are awesome at ideas, those would be people who would come to our meetup.”

The startup business that RAIN works with to develop aren’t mom and pop shops, instead they are manufacturing, or food and beverage products such as if a local restaurateur wanted to expand a product to a national level, Cummings explained. 

"Or they could have a product that they’ve already started, such as a craftsman," she added. 

Because RAIN isn't working to help with small local Mom and Pop stores RAIN organizers have been working with Linn-Benton Community College Small Business Development Center. So for people who show up with those ideas, RAIN would direct those people to the SBDC. 

If a person came up with an idea for a better mousetrap, and sell it at a local hardware store they would work with the small business center, but if they wanted to sell nationally they would work with RAIN.

“If you want to sell this thing with a distributer across the globe and get it distributed to China or wherever,” Cummings said. 

RAIN has a rural entrepreneurial model, and is putting together a $500,000 investment for startups in the for county region.

RAIN has rolled out a similar model in Eugene, Corvallis, Florence and Lincoln city.

“Most recently we’ve been in Albany,” Cummings said. “Lebanon and Sweet Home found out about it, and they were ‘what about us? We’ve got cool people with ideas here too.’”

Cummings said she was invited in by the city, chamber of commerce, LBCC, the Boys & Girls Club of the Greater Santiam, and a couple of local individual entrepreneurs. 

Cummings said they would like to work with the Lebanon medical school as well. 

“We want to work with (COMP-Northwest) because oftentimes students or professors have a great idea for a new piece of medical technology,” Cummings said, “and we help them figure out how to commercialize it."

If there’s enough interest in the first meetings, the follow-up event will be a pitch competition where people could present their ideas to the RAIN team, and that meeting would be similar to the show “Shark Tank.” Presenters will get a 60 seconds to showcase their idea, and audience members will vote.

“(As for the first meetings), if we get nobody, we’ll try it one more time and if we still get nobody, then there might not be anything there," Cumming said. 

Cumming added that hasn't happened yet.

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