Home Back Issues November 2008 County payments: a VC chance?

County payments: a VC chance?

| Print |  Email
Archives - November 2008
Saturday, November 01, 2008

STATEWIDE  If Oregon’s counties were start-up companies, they would be freaks. In the midst of economic crisis, the state’s rural governments scored $800 million in what could be described as VC funding — a massive cash infusion in the form of federal timber payments that will keep them afloat for another four years. The money came in the nick of time; some counties were literally facing bankruptcy.

But like any check from an angel investor or VC firm, the money for the counties is finite. Over the next four years the county timber payments will decrease dramatically each annum. And then Oregon’s rural communities will be back to square one.

So what can Oregon’s counties learn from their private counterparts? Some of the funding is earmarked for basics such as roads and schools, but Carolynn Duncan, a Portland- and Seattle-based start-up consultant, says counties need to have an investment mindset with discretionary funds.

“Don’t spend a dime until you bring in someone who knows what the hell they’re doing with regional economic development — and at the same time, will operate as a venture capitalist would, to generate a return on the $800 million investment by creating self-sustainable new economies,” she says.

Like any startup company, rural counties should be identifying their competitive advantages and then using those funds to capitalize on that, says Eric Rosenfeld, with Portland’s Capybara Ventures and the Oregon Angel Fund. “This is a gift from Washington. Counties can use it to identify the role they want to play in their region,” he says. “Because at some point they have to become self-supporting economies.”

And there’s the rub: self-supporting. The previous round of payments ended without the majority of counties ever reaching, to continue the metaphor, profitability. Those governments will never be able to act exactly like businesses. But like their counterparts in the private sector, someday they’re going to have to prove their fiscal sustainability. Four years isn’t a lot of time. But for a startup rich with VC dough, it’s an empty slate waiting to be filled with innovation and plans for the future.      

ABRAHAM HYATT


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

Banishing oil burners reaps benefits for schools

News
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
04.02.14 thumb co2schoolsBY APRIL STREETER | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Three years ago, PPS set out to begin to convert the 1930s-era boilers from diesel/bunker fuel to cleaner-burning natural gas. Oregon’s largest school district has realized impressive carbon dioxide emissions reductions, setting an example for public and private institutions.


Read more...

The 2014 List: The Top 33 Large Companies to Work, For in Oregon

March 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014

100best14logoWebOur 100 Best Companies project turned 21 this year, so pop open the Champagne. Our latest survey gives us plenty to cheer.

 


Read more...

Eking out a living

News
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
04.08.14 thumb ourtable-coopfarmsBY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER

It may be obvious, but most farmers don’t make a lot of money. According to preliminary data from the 2012 Agriculture Census, 52% of America’s 2.1 million principal farm-operators don’t call farming their primary occupation. Farm cooperatives may offer a solution.


Read more...

Buy the book

News
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
2 03.25.14 thumb bookshopBY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER

Oregon is home not only to many fine writers but also several accomplished small publishers.


Read more...

Powerlist: Meeting perspectives

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

BY BRANDON SAWYER

A conversation about the event-planning industry with sales directors from McMenamins and the Portland Art Museum. 


Read more...

The more they change, the more they stay the same

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
100-best-collageBY BRANDON SAWYER

The 100 Best Companies get more creative with perks and more generous with benefits; employees seek empowering relations with management and coworkers.


Read more...

How to help your staff solve their own problems

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 21, 2014
03.21.14 thumb coxcoffeeTOM COX | OB BLOGGER

During a recent talk to HR Directors, I asked if they saw leaders trying to solve every problem, instead of delegating to and empowering staff. Every head nodded. Every single one.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS