Eugene, Ore. (March 1, 2021) — Entrepreneurs and startup companies in Eugene, Oregon will be getting a big boost, thanks to a $500,000 grant from the U.S Department of Commerce. The University of Oregon, the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, and newly formed non-profit Onward Eugene have partnered to aid in the local economic recovery.

“Small businesses are the backbone of Oregon’s economy in Eugene and statewide, so this support for Onward Eugene, the University of Oregon and the region is essential to create jobs as our nation weathers this pandemic,” U.S. Senator Ron Wyden said. “Small businesses are bolstered through mentorships, leveraging collective expertise to create and innovate. These federal dollars will go a long way toward building an even stronger and more resilient Eugene economy.”

The main goal is to increase regional resilience through the cultivation of the startup ecosystem and the expansion of entrepreneurial support programs.

This grant will fund expanding programs that include the ID8 Pre-Accelerator, which is scheduled to begin in April, and EUG Launchpad, which ignites in June. Additional opportunities will be created for unemployed workers to access resources from Onward Eugene’s regional startup accelerator, supported by increased capacity of a regional entrepreneurial mentorship program in partnership with the University of Oregon.

 “At the UO, this grant fits in directly with one of our top academic initiatives that is focused on innovation and economic development,” said UO Provost and Senior Vice President Patrick Phillips. “And it accentuates how important our partnership with the Eugene Chamber of Commerce and Onward Eugene is to making a difference in the changing economy. Together, we will have a positive impact on accelerating innovation within the community, which will ultimately enhance economic activity and job prospects within the region.”

Expanded training and mentorship opportunities made possible by this investment will provide area startup small businesses with expert guidance to help them grow and thrive, in the face of the economic impacts of COVID-19.

“Strong partnerships, innovation, entrepreneurship and the prioritization of a high tech, knowledge-based economy have converged to create a strong economic foundation in the Eugene-Springfield area,” said Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley.

In April 2020, COVID-19 hit hard. According to the State of Oregon Employment Department, the Eugene area lost 25,700 jobs, a 15.6% decline in a single month. The unemployment rate spiked to 16.1%, an all-time high.

“A year into the pandemic, grants like these provide small businesses critical support as they work to manage the economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-04).

Onward Eugene’s vision is prosperity for all. The organization endeavors to achieve this through economic development initiatives that are intentional about making prosperity more inclusive.

This mission is furthered by Onward Eugene’s growing Board of Directors from the private and public sectors, that includes newly elected officers: Tina Guldberg – University of Oregon, Senior Director of Industry Partnerships; Katherine L. Moyer – Hershner Hunter LLP, Partner; Erik C. Parrish – King Estate Winery, Chief Accounting Officer; and Craig A. Wanichek – Summit Bank President and CEO.

“Economic development is a team sport and we are immensely thankful for the support of the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as the strong partnership with the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce and the University of Oregon,” said Matt Sayre, Managing Director of Onward Eugene. “We recognize that in rebuilding and growing the local economy, there is the potential for greater equality of economic opportunity and that is at the center of what Onward Eugene is about.”

# # # 

About Onward Eugene

Onward Eugene unites regional partners — mobilizing rebuilding efforts to fully realize our regions shared potential for expansive and inclusive prosperity. Bringing together support for startups, business expansion, regional marketing and business recruiting initiatives. Onward Eugene is a force multiplier in the creation of economic resilience. A 501(c)3 nonprofit.