I have spent the last three years (give or take) working as, with and along-side microbusinesses, and we all sing a variant of the same song: I know there is help out there, and I know some of it is great and some of it is crap. But, as there is no single point of entry for locating these resources, and who has the time to start a business and locate and vet the wide scattering of available resources. The end result being that people wanting to start businesses stumble around in the dark and end up working with the folks they hit on first. Those who were lucky enough to find high-quality assistance early on sing the praises of the resources Portland has to offer startups. Those (unfortunately, like myself) who have had a series of negative experiences, have just put their heads down and slogged forward alone.
Not being a particularly complacent person (sometime to CubeSpace’s or my own detriment), I have gotten to know a lot more about the resources for startups or microbusinesses needing some additional assistance. I have discovered that there really are a lot of great resources out there as well as people who are genuinely interested in supporting small business owners. But the problem remains that there is no single point of entry for locating these resources. Just an alphabet soup of (mostly) publically funded resources.
It took an economic crisis, but the Portland Development Commission now has a list, with links, on their website with resources for local businesses: http://pdc.us/resources/economylinks.asp.
Fortunately this is not the only thing the City of Portland is doing. Mayor-elect Sam Adams is very interested in small businesses, having recognized that we make up 85% of Portland’s economy, and we tend to be the primary economic driver during recessions. At the last Small Business Advisory Council, Sam shared his 4th draft of recommendations to City Council on a Portland economic stimulus package. While the content of the package remains a moving target, small businesses are an explicit category. I’ve got to say that its nice to see that we’ve made the big time.