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Portland District Office

Success Stories

Success Stories

The holiday tradition of building and decorating gingerbread houses inspired crafty Mom, Cheryl Albers, to try her hand at making houses from scratch and throwing decorating parties. Immediately, party and gingerbread house requests started coming in from friends and friends of friends. Cheryl had uncovered a demand, where people not only wanted to continue the holiday tradition, but also wanted fresh, homemade gingerbread that wasn’t just edible, but tastes great. “I truly sell fun,” said Cheryl.  “Young, old, who doesn’t love decorating a gingerbread house?”

The demand for the houses sent Cheryl looking for a place to expand beyond her home kitchen and she landed on Main Street in Oregon City. Gingerbread Traditions, Inc. ran operations from there for eight years. Yet the small footprint provided many challenges, including that pallets had to be loaded and stored outside prior to pick up. In a state known for its rainy weather, this proved to be unpractical.

Now, 15... Read More

When a Business Needs a Team for Success

When Marshall Doyle settled in Portland, Ore., after four years in the Air Force and another five years in the Air National Guard, he wasn’t thinking about owning a business. He wanted to get a job and support his wife and two young children. Marshall worked his way up through a local property management firm, eventually overseeing 40 employees. But he wasn’t satisfied. “I always felt like I could do more,” said Marshall. “I was always looking for opportunities.” So when a friend of the family introduced him to the owner of Cal-Cert who was looking to sell his business, Marshall jumped at the opportunity.

It meant a $20,000 cut in pay, but the challenge made up for it and in 1998, Marshall went to work at Cal-Cert. Eight months later after learning the ropes, he purchased the company. Marshall had some experience in calibration from serving as Field Systems Mechanic while in the Air Force, but he didn’t have a lot of knowledge about running a small business. That’s when he... Read More

The School Life

When she founded Escuela-Viva, Angie Garcia wanted to create an early childhood education program that would have a direct impact on the overall development of the children it served. “I wanted to create a community that would support the development of well-rounded children,” said Angie. In order to achieve this, it meant building a school, from the ground up.

Escuela-Viva is a bilingual preschool located in Southeast Portland that serves children and their families. Today’s thriving and successful enterprise began 10 years ago in Angie’s basement.

As the mother of a nearly two year old, Angie needed to work to support her family. Yet she could not find a preschool that fit her needs and she worried about the lack of socialization that a nanny would provide. So instead, she turned to her years of experience as a child and family social worker and set out to start her own school.

The school started with just a few children, including her own daughter. Before... Read More

The Sweet Side of Business

When Debbie Eggers and Janelle Mikula met outside their daughters’ classroom six years ago, they had no idea they would start a business together. But, while shopping at a local candy store during a family vacation together, Debbie mentioned her dream of opening her own business, and Janelle thought it sounded like a great idea.

A few months and a lot of research later, Debbie spotted a flier in a vacant downtown Gresham storefront and realized that this was their chance. At the time, the City of Gresham was waiving building and licensing fees to encourage growth on Main Street. So Debbie and Janelle got to work.

“Our biggest struggle in getting started was creating a full-fledged business plan. Neither of us had any idea what this meant or how to get started,” said Debbie. “This is where the SBA came into play.”

Debbie and Janelle enrolled in a class for startup businesses at the Mt. Hood Community College Small Business Development Center, where they learned... Read More

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