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Portland District Office

Success Stories

Success Stories

Photos or Annabel Ortega de Radillo and her husband Jose, owners of Empower Painting.

When Annabel Ortega de Radillo and her husband Jose decided to start a business, they sought the help of business advisors at the Clackamas College Small Business Development Center SBDC.

Jose’s years of experience in the painting industry gave him knowledge of the operations side of the business, while Annabel brought her military experience managing administrative processes, scheduling, and finances. Even still, they had many questions about how to get started off on the right foot.

Myrna Rattle, the Veteran’s Representative, at the Clackamas SBDC met with Annabel and worked with her through her enrollment in the SBDC’s 16-week Small Business Greenhouse course. This particular course was appealing to Annabel for its affordability, evening schedule, and the comprehensiveness of the training. Well before completing the course, Annabel and Jose were able to launch their business, Empower Painting. Now some years later, Annabel jokes appreciatively that she ‘believes... Read More

Chris and Cindy Reed, Owners of The Grocery Social & Cocktail

You may have heard about their grand opening, or perhaps that they are pouring a delicious cocktail, but have you heard how Chris and Cindy Reed, owners of The Grocery Cocktail & Social, launched the dream of owning their own place?

Like their specialty drink recipes, Chris and Cindy stirred together the right combination of ingredients to present themselves as eligible borrowers. Chris brought to the table over a decade’s worth of restaurant and hospitality industry experience, including having worked his way from sous-chef to general manager of the well-known Screen Door restaurant in Portland. Experience was a great first building block. Chris’ career history gave him the right ideas about operations and management, while Cindy brought to the table her experience as a customer service manager in the banking industry, and as a current Starbucks store manager—but as their pursuit solidified, the Reeds decided they needed to put together a comprehensive business plan.... Read More

Happy with waffle iron content body

Derrick Pruitt, owner of Happy’s Java and Soul Food Shack sells the unheard of – home-cooked meals from a drive-up window. After a near-fatal hit and run accident in 2008, Derrick was told he would never work again. Defying the odds, he built his own innovative and successful coffee, barbecue and soul-food business with his wife, Marcella, in Springfield, Oregon.

Derrick, or Happy as he is more commonly known as, developed his cooking skills and menu from watching his parents cook during childhood.  “Most of these recipes have been in my family for over 100 years,” said Happy. “My specialties include Alabama-style barbecue and smoked meats, soul food dishes, Belgian sweet potato waffles and fresh hand-roasted coffee. “

Happy makes all of his food, sauces and seasonings from scratch and uses state-of-the-art smokers, ovens and imported Belgian waffle irons to help speed up his authentic home-cooked soul food.

Five years ago, Happy was in a life-changing hit and... Read More

Dr. Matt Hicks had wanted to be a dentist for as long as he can remember. He thinks it may have had something to do with what his Mom told him at a young age; “take care of your teeth or they will fall out of your head.”

Becoming a business owner was not so natural for Matt. After graduating from the Dental program at Oregon Health and Science University in 1997, he went to work for Dr. David Long at Moreland Neighborhood Dental. He happily lived out his dream, working as an associate for the next eight years. But in 2004, Dr. Long laid out the future for him. “I told him, either you buy the practice or you move on,” said Dr. Long. So just like that, Matt began to take over Moreland Neighborhood Dental.

Without any prior business experience, Matt found himself struggling with most aspects of running the practice. “I didn’t know what I was doing,” said Matt. “It was intimidating, so I did what Dr. Long had done for years and things just went along.” The practice... Read More