Microloan program for Latino entrepreneurs honored for economic development

Last year, around 20 small business owners in the mid-Willamette Valley enrolled in classes to understand the complexities of starting, growing and maintaining a successful business. 

Insurance, securing capital and business development were among the subjects taught through the Latino Microenterprise Development Program, a collaborative effort between several local economic development organizations. The program received one of nine awards this year from Salem’s Strategic Economic Development Corporation.

The microenterprise program recently completed its first full year and will resume this week. It plans to expand to McMinnville in the coming year with help from Unidos Bridging Community, a nonprofit based in Yamhill County.

An agricultural co-op, a Dallas creamery and a Salem flooring manufacturer are also among the award recipients recognized at SEDCOR’s annual ceremony, held Sept. 8 at the Salem Convention Center with around 220 people in attendance, according to Naureen Khan, a spokeswoman for the organization. 

SEDCOR is the Salem-area economic development nonprofit.

The winners are:

Agri-business of the Year: Pratum Co-op has served farmers and customers in Marion County for 75 years, “with $300 million in sales, 450,000 acres under crop management, 70 million pounds of grass seed produced, 175 full-time employees, 19 locations, 579 members, and a commitment to research and innovation,” according to a news release from SEDCOR.

Business Partner of the Year: Pacific Crest Real Estate Advisors, for providing guidance that benefits the community on matters such as childcare, housing and recreational projects in Yamhill County.

Community Service Award: John Gooley of Withers Lumber serves on several community boards and commissions. In Mt. Angel, he helped build and maintain the Festhalle, the Benedictine Abbey Brewery and a new welding room at Kennedy High School. 

Entrepreneur of the Year: Dreamies Creamery is a women-owned, family business that serves sheep milk ice cream at its Dallas parlor as well as events such as fairs. The creamery opened its storefront this year after expanding from a mobile truck.

Innovative Product: Polk County-based Zena Forest Products, for introducing a new, sustainable product in hardwood edge grain flooring tiles to the North American market.

Outstanding Public/Private Partnership: Latino Microenterprise Development Program, for developing “a community program designed to help participants master the knowledge and skills necessary to establish, grow, and sustain a business for long-term success,” according to the news release.

Community Leadership Award: The cities of Independence and Monmouth, for their joint work in recent years on projects such as a new skate park, a Spirit Mountain Community Fund grant over $30,000 to buy new automated external defibrillators to use throughout the region, and a renewed trolley public transit system.

Manufacturer of the Year: A-dec Inc. has manufactured dental equipment out of Yamhill County for around 60 years. Meanwhile, the company has donated equipment to nonprofits, youth education programs and employee volunteer service teams, as well as worked “with local partners to tackle tough community issues like housing affordability in our region,” the news release said.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

SUPPORT OUR WORK – We depend on subscribers for resources to report on Salem with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Subscribe today to get our daily newsletters and more. Click I want to subscribe!

Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.