Programs help large and small businesses

by: CONTRIBUTED: CITY OF GRESHAM - The Small Business Center app developed by city of Gresham staff shows a scene from Historic Downtown Gresham.The city of Gresham has an innovative way to help small businesses and industry — through its own apps.

Eric Schmidt, community development director, said staff started working on the apps only a couple of months ago, and now they’re up and running at a total cost of only $5,000. The apps will run on smart phones and tablets.

The two apps are both geared toward business, but one focuses on small businesses and the other on economic development.

The screen of the economic development app shows a photo of the Gresham Vista Business Park, on 211 acres at Glisan Street and 223rd Avenue, said Shannon Stadey, acting director of Economic Development Services. The app lists properties, including the business park, and gives investors access to a map where pins indicate buildings, vacant lands and traded sector employers.

“You can click on each pin for more information like details on buildings, the broker and square footage,” Stadey said. “There’s a link to use for (city) incentives, and if you click on the link it calls us.”

Stadey explained that traded sector companies are companies that bring new wealth into a community, “Like Microchip. It sells all over the world, not just Oregon, so that’s new dollars.”

The economic development app also links to the city’s YouTube site for access to city videos such as “Why Gresham?” which promotes the city’s assets. The city also can use the app to reach out to business and industry through social media, she said.

“Another use is site selection,” she said.”They can pull up our app and look at a building in Gresham and get all the specifications and demographics.”

Kristin Chiles, small business coordinator, talked about how the second app connects with the city’s Small Business Center.

The app explains what the SBC does and gives testimonials, information on how to get started, business demographics and maps of commercial centers and demographic information, she said. It also answers the question, “In what part of the city would my business work best?”

The app includes the Start Smart Guide that tells new business owners things they should consider.

“If they’re expanding or relocating, it answers questions they ask themselves, with information on licensing and permitting, different process fees, information on the permitting process as well as costs and tips,” Chiles said.

The app includes vacancy maps with detailed information on a vacancies resource page, and in listings for commercial property for lease, the users can contact the broker of the property directly from the app.

Another popular feature of the small business app is a calendar of events for business meetings and training in the Gresham area. There’s also a photo gallery on the small business app where businesses can send their own photos to be posted, as well as a notepad and links to local and regional special events.

Feedback from both apps has been good, Stadey said. “It’s helpful and useful, and we hope to get solid survey facts about how it’s working, how to improve it and make it better,” she said.

One app user is already happy. Kemmie Giard, owner of Play A Latte Cafe, told the city she loves the new small business app.

“Starting a business is so very overwhelming, and the app sort of puts the process all in the palm of your hand, literally,” she said. “A few of the features I absolutely love are the vacancies/resources as they are all on one ‘page,’ versus surfing all over the place or driving all over Gresham to find vacancies.”

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