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Office of the Chancellor
P.O. Box 751
Portland, OR 97207
FAX (503) 725-5709
PHONE (503) 725-5700
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September 21, 1999            

Contact: Philip Bransford, 503-725-5717
Source: Jim Coonan, 503-725-5735
Web: www.ous.edu/business

Colleges, Universities Awarded Grant to Aid Struggling Businesses

PORTLAND - In today's rapidly changing economy, an extra boost of brainpower may mean the difference between an Oregon business turning a profit and going under. Yet some established businesses, and even more startups, may lack the revenue needed to pay for technical assistance.

To help Oregon businesses facing such challenges, the Oregon University System has partnered with 35 Oregon colleges and universities to create Knowledge Exchange, a one-stop brokerage offering businesses access to expertise available throughout the state's higher education community.

Thanks to a recent $100,000 grant award from the Governor's Strategic Reserve Fund - administered by the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department - Knowledge Exchange can help qualified businesses pay for the assistance they receive.

"Although Knowledge Exchange is available to all Oregon businesses, some newer companies simply don't have the revenue yet to pay for all the help they need," explains Business Alliances Director Jim Coonan. "Start-ups like these tend to be idea rich but cash poor. They can also be unfamiliar with the world of business and with the resources available in Oregon to help start a company."

Knowledge Exchange can help, according to Coonan, by working with a business to identify the specific challenge it faces. The service can then match the business with appropriate faculty or staff members from the 35 participating campuses. Assistance can range from developing a prototype to crafting a business plan to receiving management consulting.

To pay for the assistance, qualified companies would only be required to cover half of the cost of their particular projects. In such cases, the grant fund would cover the other half. But should even these terms be too steep for a struggling company, portions of the grant fund could be issued as a no-interest loan to be paid back on a negotiated timetable.

"The idea here is to help Oregon entrepreneurs succeed at growing Oregon companies," says Coonan. "We all end up benefiting because our economy will be generating more and better jobs as a result."

Businesses interested in learning more about Knowledge Exchange can visit a new Oregon University System Web site at www.ous.edu/business. Knowledge Exchange can also be contacted by calling (503) 725-5755 or sending e-mail to business@ous.edu.

 

 

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