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The event is intended for entrepreneurs and would-be businesspeople in western Washington County.

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: MARK MILLER - Downtown Forest Grove is home to many small businesses, including Van Dyke Appliances, Bites Restaurant and The King's Head Pub on Main Street.Calling all small businesspeople, entrepreneurs and starry-eyed dreamers…

The City of Forest Grove, the Forest Grove/Cornelius Chamber of Commerce and the Forest Grove Economic Development Commission are partnering to offer a forum called "Growing Your Small Business" on Tuesday, Jan. 23, in downtown Forest Grove.

The forum is geared toward people who are thinking about or have already started small businesses in the area.

The event isn't limited to Forest Grove residents and business-owners, either — it is open to those from other parts of western Washington County, including Cornelius, Banks, Gaston, North Plains and Hillsboro as well, said Dan King, Forest Grove's economic development manager.

As King described it, the forum provides an opportunity for actual and prospective small businesspeople to learn about the resources available to them in western Washington County, as well as the realities of operating a small business in the area.

King said he wants local businesses to succeed, which furthers his own mission of growing Forest Grove's economy. Part of that, though, is helping people who may not be prepared to go into business realize the challenges they face, so that they can either prepare themselves accordingly — with the assistance of local entities, like a city or chambers of commerce, as well as larger agencies like the U.S. Small Business Administration — or change course.

The forum will be divided into segments.

"We'll have these different modules," said King. "So we have an opening speaker from the SBA to talk about small business issues and challenges and trends, and then we start talking about business counseling, business plan development, business planning."

Toward the end of the forum, King said, attendees will be able to visit booths and tables set up to provide more specific information, ask questions of economic development staff and others in attendance, and network with one another.

King said Forest Grove has occasionally hosted small business forums in the past.

"We do them periodically as we have time available or staff to do it with," he said.

From King's perspective, it is important for the city and its partners to work with the small business community. As Forest Grove's economic development manager, much of his job revolves around encouraging businesses to move to Forest Grove, stay in the city and expand.

Downtown Forest Grove is dotted with shops, restaurants and bars, among other locally owned businesses. A similar mix can be seen in neighboring Cornelius, as well as in smaller Banks and North Plains to their north. While chain restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, stores and gas stations also make up a vital part of the business mix, those small local businesses add a distinctive flavor and flair. They're economically important as well, with popular small businesses attracting devoted followings while employing local workers.

"Small business is critical to our communities and our downtowns," King said.

The "Growing Your Small Business" forum will run from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Forest Grove Community Auditorium, 1915 Main St. There is no cost to attend. Off-street public parking is available south of Pacific Avenue between Ash and Council streets.

By Mark Miller
Editor, Forest Grove News-Times
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