This article brought to you courtesy of Oregon City Economic Development - sponsored content

If you ever had a dream of starting a business, this is your perfect opportunity.

In a rare public-private partnership, Clackamas Federal Credit Union is teaming up with the Oregon City economic development department and Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon to provide $100,000 in loans to startups based in Oregon City who have been in operation for three or fewer years. To participate, a business must also have a business plan and provide a personal guarantee. Applicants may receive loans up to $20,000 to fund their growing companies. The new pilot program will serve as a boost to the local economy and provide much-needed patient capital to startup firms.Take control of your own destiny and start the business you've always wanted.

"Through this program, dreams can come true," said James Graham, Oregon City economic development manager. "There aren't many chances that come along in a lifetime to start a business in such favorable conditions."

Borrowers selected to participate will not have to make principal or interest payment for the first 12 months. During the first year, interest will accrue at a low rate of 0.5%, and after 12 months the interest will be adjusted to 3 percentage points above prime. Borrowers will have up to five years to repay the loan.

"A lot of people have had epiphanies brought on by the pandemic," said Graham. "More and more people have had the realization that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Many people have realized what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Well, the best time to follow your dream is now. Starting a business not only puts you in control of your own destiny, it also starts to build family wealth."

William Gifford, owner of the business smALL FLAGs, said the Entrepreneurial Opportunity Loan Program is "a slam dunk." Gifford started his first business "Other Lands," in Salem in 1987, which sold merchandise from around the world. But the process of starting a business was not without its trials and tribulations. "Getting money was tough," said Gifford. "I had a banker tell me I had the best business plan he'd ever seen, but he still wouldn't loan me a dime. Banks don't loan money on potential."

"Trying to start a business on your own is a fool's errand." Said Gifford. "There's a million things you need to know. You need to understand marketing, finance…and you don't know anything except that you have a dream."

Which is why the Entrepreneurial Opportunity Loan Program is such a "slam dunk": it offers a generous loan repayment program while also offering business guidance from MESO.

The awarded loan can be used for utilities, payroll, supplies, costs, or renovations to a business. It can even be used to buy new machinery, equipment, or a company car. The money allows you to propel your business forward.

Oregon City's Economic Development Department hopes that the loan program will jolt entrepreneurship in the city.

More information about the program is on Oregon City's new Economic Development website, Information and the application are on the Incentives and Program page- Eligible applicants are invited to apply online between Aug. 15 and Sept. 30. You may also call Elaina Brewington at MESO directly — 503 505 7428 extension 107. Or pick up an application at City Hall, 625 Center St.

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