Oregon tradeswomen

A quick-read roundup of the latest small business news


Oregon Tradeswomen Inc. will honor outstanding women in the skilled trades during an Oct. 10 online event that will replace the organization’s annual in-person Build with Us! Blue Collar Gala and Woman on the Rise Awards A pre-gala event will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by the presentation of awards at 6 p.m. The virtual event is free, but registration is required. OTI also is looking for sponsors to help drum up financial support that fuels no-cost training programs for women interested in careers in construction. A silent auction also will be held online in conjunction with the gala. Bidding will open at noon on Oct. 6 and close at 8 p.m. on Oct. 12. For more information about the virtual gala and auction events and to register, visit bit.ly/3hvCcj8


A Portland company is among the finalists from across the country vying for honors in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s annual Dream Big Awards.

The Dream Big Awards, presented by Chase for Business with support from MetLife, were designed to recognize the outstanding contributions small business make to economic growth in America. In addition to naming a Dream Big Small Business of the Year, the awards recognize excellence in achievement in six categories.

Portland-based Looptworks is competing against two other businesses for top honors in the Green/Sustainable Business Achievement category.

Looptworks was founded in 2009 by Scott Hamlin to combat the excess waste he saw first-hand in the apparel industry. The company “upcycles” clothing items such as jerseys from teams in the National Basketball Association into backpacks and bags, pillows, t-shirts, and other items. A brainstorming session with outdoor apparel company Patagonia, for example, resulted in Looptworks turning worn fishing wader boots into food and drink containers durable enough for outdoor use.

In addition to sustainably minded businesses like Looptworks, the Oct. 15 awards will recognize outstanding minority-owned, woman-owned, veteran-owned and emerging small businesses, and young entrepreneurs. The event also will feature a new award created this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Community Support and Leadership award will recognize a small business that went above and beyond to serve the needs of its employees, customers and neighbors.

While being selected as a finalist in the awards is always considered a notable accomplishment, this year’s competition was especially tough. Looptworks and other finalists were selected from among 700 small businesses, the largest number of applications ever received, according to the Chamber.

“Over the last several months, small business owners have faced challenge after challenges,” Tom Sullivan, the Chamber’s vice president of small business policy said in a release statement. “Yet, despite these challenges small business owners never stop innovating, pivoting, taking risks, working hard, and dreaming big.”


The City of Hermiston will use a $1.5 million grant from the federal government to build infrastructure in South Hermiston Industrial Park to bring the area to shovel-ready status to attract private development.

The city will match the grant with $1.5 million of its own money to construct roads and sewer and water infrastructure in an area located near a designated Opportunity Zone. The Opportunity Zone program was created by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to spur economic development in economically distressed communities across the country.

Hermiston City leaders estimated the total $3 million infrastructure investment will help move forward development that will have the potential to generate $70 million in private investment and generate 250 jobs.


With a first close of $525,000, VertueLab has launched its $5 million Climate Impact Fund. The fund is designed to boost philanthropy to support clean tech companies working on climate solutions.

Currently, only 2% of philanthropic giving is directed to addressing the climate crisis. VertueLab sees its new fund as a way to begin shifting that percentage in a more positive direction.

The fund will support early stage, clean tech solutions that focus on solving the root causes of the climate crisis and moving forward the transition to a carbon-free economy. Foundations, donor-advised funds, individuals and corporations all are eligible to invest in the new fund with gifts, grants, program-related investments, and catalytic investments.

“Our new fund is a unique model that operates between traditional philanthropic giving and market-rate investing to solve the humanitarian issue of our time — the climate crisis,” David Kenney, president and executive director of VertueLab, said in a press release.

 First participants in the fund include Vanguard Charitable, Woka Foundation and ImpactAssets. In addition to its initial $250,000 contribution, Woka Foundation has promised to make another investment for the same amount in May 2021.

 The fund has begun accepting applications from clean tech startups looking for both financial and business support to advance climate solution technologies. Interested startups can express their interest to VertueLab by filling out an online form available at bit.ly/3iwFqUS


What: OAME Virtual Annual Conference When: October 8, from 10 a.m. to noon

Cost: Free

For more information: Visit Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs’ website at oame.org to register to receive a link to the event