Do you dream of running your own business, but don’t know how to get started? Then Umpqua GrowthTalks may be for you. The informal, free talks are produced by the Umpqua Economic Development Partnership and designed for people who want to start a business, already own one or want to support those who do. The kickoff party is scheduled for Wednesday, from 5-7:30 p.m. at Backside Brewing Co., 1640 NE Odell Ave., Roseburg. To learn more about the new program, The News-Review spoke with Wayne Patterson, Executive Director of the Partnership.

What is GrowthTalks?

GrowthTalks is a movement to create sustainable and measurable economic growth through new business startups and early stage business development. Through a series of events, the Partnership aims to inspire, inform and invest in our areas entrepreneurs with speaker panels, videos, Pitch Night competitions and more. We believe a supportive ecosystem can be created in Douglas County to foster new business ideas and innovation.

Where did the idea come from?

In 2011, the Young Entrepreneur Society (Y.E.S.) of Umpqua Valley was created to ignite an entrepreneurial culture that helps young entrepreneurs feel they can stay here in Southern Oregon to grow successful, innovative and fun companies. Also, to help young professionals and entrepreneurs connect with each other. In May 2017, the Umpqua Business Center began managing the Y.E.S. group and renamed it Umpqua Pub Talks. Finally, in June 2019, the Partnership took on Pub Talks because it closely aligned with their strategic plan to grow workforce and entrepreneurial development. Although the evolution of GrowthTalks started in Roseburg in 2011, this type of event has been done in cities and rural communities all over the world for a much longer period of time and has proven to be successful with the right principles in place.

Who would be a good candidate for GrowthTalks and why?

In order for a startup community to be successful, they must be inclusive. Anyone who wants to engage should be able to. If you want to start a business, GrowthTalks is for you. If you own a business, GrowthTalks is for you. If you simply like this idea and/or want to support your community, GrowthTalks is for you. If you are a valuable resource for our area’s entrepreneurs, GrowthTalks is for you. Show up, see what it’s about and keep coming back if you support what’s going on. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be inspired to create something new yourself.

It seems quite ambitious — explain to me why you are confident it’s going to be a success.

The Partnership is taking a risk on spending valuable time and resources on creating what GrowthTalks will look like. There has to be a starting point and we are passionate about this movement. We aren’t positive GrowthTalks will be a success, but we are confident that people living in Douglas County have innovative, creative minds. We are also confident in our local businesses who provide resources to guide entrepreneurs down a pathway to success. What’s lacking is the supportive ecosystem and the dissemination of valuable information to those who need it. We hope GrowthTalks can change that.

How will this benefit Roseburg and the region?

Residents of Douglas County can attend GrowthTalks to be inspired, get information, and find investments for their business ideas. With the creation of new businesses comes much needed economic growth and job creation in our community.

What else should we know about GrowthTalks?

Our first Kickoff event is this Wednesday January 22nd from 5-7:30PM. The first hour is networking and the program is from 6-7:30. This is the meeting everyone will want to attend and to learn about the past, present and future. Our second event will be the much-anticipated Pitch Night taking place on Wednesday, February 19. This is an opportunity to pitch new business ideas against others. No business plan is needed and the winner receives up to $1,000. To get more information, check out upcoming events, and apply for Pitch Night, visit umpquagrowthtalks.com. Be sure to register at our website for your free admission.

Scott Carroll can be reached at scarroll@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204.

Or follow him on Twitter @scottcarroll15.

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