With a vibrant and diverse business community, there clearly are a number of resources for people to tap into in Bend to either get a business started or learn how to make one grow. Here are just some of the groups and resources for anyone thinking about starting up a business.
Bend Chamber of Commerce – a chamber of commerce is fairly ubiquitous in any town, but the Bend Chamber is exceptional at helping business people connect to resources and solutions. As stewards of the business community culture, the Chamber provides networking opportunities, advocacy efforts at the local, state, and federal levels, and programs in support of our diverse workforce from entry level to post-retirement.
EDCO – Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) is a non-profit corporation founded in 1981 that supports the creation of a diversified local economy and a strong base of middle-class jobs in Central Oregon. EDCO focuses on helping businesses move, start and grow in Central Oregon and have a number of resources available such as business and economic data for the region, incentives and capital information, and profiles on people and infrastructure.
City of Bend – The City of Bend is a great resource for businesses. In fact, they have a Business Advocate on staff to act as a sort of concierge and point of contact for all things business related. The City of Bend does require that all businesses located in the city or doing business within the city limits hold a valid business registration. There is an annual fee for the registration, which can be applied for and renewed online.
SBDC – The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Central Oregon Community College focuses on providing management and technical assistance to the business community. SBDC offers classes that help start or grow a business, depending on where your business is in its lifecycle. For startups, the curriculum centers on building a solid foundation and avoiding costly mistakes. For established businesses, the curriculum helps create a sound path to business growth.
SCORE – A non-profit organization, SCORE Central Oregon is dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. The local chapter of SCORE has high-achieving volunteers on staff from various industries that provide free, confidential business counseling services.
Opportunity Knocks – Known to most locals and members as OK, Opportunity Knocks is a peer-to-peer mentoring organization that has been helping business and community leaders excel since 1996. This membership-based organization requires you to be invited to join by a current member or you can apply to be placed on a team. Membership dues go toward administrative costs of the organization, yet all of the facilitators are volunteers.
These are several great places to start if you are looking to start a business, need advice and guidance on growing a business, or simply want to get “plugged in” to the local business scene. With these examples, it’s easy to see that the Bend business community is welcoming and collaborative. All you need to do is ask for help.