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Success Stories

Turning Up the Heat on Oregon’s Food Scene

When Nikki Guerrero moved to Portland from Phoenix, Arizona to pursue a career in commercial photography in 1999, Mexican cuisine had not yet made a significant impact on Oregon’s food scene. Guerrero grew up making salsa and tortillas with her grandmother from Mexico and was always asked to bring the salsa to social gatherings. One day, a friend from Arizona who had just purchased a local produce and grocery store in North Portland, asked Guerrero if she could supply fresh salsa from locally sourced ingredients for the store. After convincing a neighboring bar to let her use their kitchen before opening, Guerrero was able to put Hot Mama Salsa on her friend’s shelf for the first time in 2008. Demand quickly grew for Guerrero’s traditional salsa and she knew she could use some help managing her growing business.


Guerrero turned to the Portland Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Portland... Read More


Since Trackers Earth’s founding in 2004, owner Molly Deis wanted to create innovative education and outdoor programs for people of all ages focusing on building a connection to the land. The company’s first summer had 40 students and three weeks of camp with just a handful of employees.  With dwindling wild spaces in the Portland Metro area, Deis knew that in order to preserve this precious resource  for future students; she had to expand the business’s footprint beyond the classroom.


When a rare opportunity to purchase two 80 acre parcels of wilderness land in Sandy, Oregon came up, Deis knew she needed additional capital to bring her vision for Trackers Earth’s future to life. With the help of SBA Funding Programs, Molly was able to get the capital needed to purchase and improve the company’s spaces in Portland and Sandy.


Today, Trackers Earth serves more than 20,000 students, youth and adults, offering day camps,... Read More

Keeping Oregon on Its Feet One Step at a Time

As a single parent working as a community organizer, Julie Derrick realized the demanding work environment prevented her from being the parent she wanted to be. Derrick took on a new job working for a shoe repair shop and discovered a trade that truly spoke to her. After years of mastering her craft under the tutelage of master cobblers, the repair shop she was working for had to lay off its entire staff because of the Great Recession in 2008. Derrick learned that repair businesses can do well during recessionary times and decided to opened JD’s Shoe Repair in 2009 in northeast Portland. After seven years in the same location, Derrick was able to purchase a new location in 2017 but knew she could use some help in expanding her business skills in order to take her shop to the next level.


In 2018, that help came when Derrick learned about the SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative, a six-month “mini-MBA”... Read More

‘Havin’ Fun Habitat’n’ in the Pacific Northwest

'Havin’ fun habitat’n' is how Kim Erion today describes her construction company’s approach to its work. Founded in 1993, LKE Corporation is a full-service construction company specializing in environmental reclamation, wildlife habitat enhancement, wetland development, and watershed restoration. Erion knew back then that getting her foot in the door in the highly competitive and established construction industry would pose some difficult challenges and knew she could use some help.


She turned to Portland SCORE to get the counseling and training to help her run her business with confidence. As the company grew, Erion enrolled in programs like the Portland Community College Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) Level 3 Business Management course and the SBA Emerging Leaders Program to prepare for the firm’s expanding opportunities. In 2017, LKE graduated from the SBA 8(a) Business Development... Read More