Business Oregon worked for us

There is a lot of talk these days about the failure of state leaders to pull Oregon out of its current economic malaise.

But while much work remains to be done, I can say from personal experience that state business development officials have the expertise and desire to help area businesses navigate these rough economic waters.

At our company, Rogue Truck Body, we have firsthand experience regarding the volatile nature of the current business climate. Our founders, Keith and Lana Hill, moved their company to Southern Oregon in 1990. By 2007, our company employed more than 50 workers between our Kerby headquarters and a Cave Junction plant/warehouse purchased in 2006.

But it was also in 2007, when the national economy and our fortunes changed and we were forced to begin employee layoffs. Happily, seven months ago, our company — which builds high-quality, heavy-duty truck bodies, trailers and transfer sets — won a large contract with a California customer. To meet the order, we needed financing, but our local bank looked at our financial picture, saw our recent struggles and were understandably hesitant to fund us.

That is when we turned to the Oregon Business Development Department — Business Oregon. State officials not only helped us with direct financing, but more importantly, they gave us expert direction. The value of Business Oregon was in their team-building approach — they showed us the available resources and helped us secure potential partners. Business Oregon made sure we got to the right people.

In this case, the right people were here in our backyard at the Illinois Valley Community Development Organization and the Josephine County Board of Commissioners. They became, along with Business Oregon, our team of financial partners and their assistance eventually convinced our bank to join us too. In essence, it was the credibility of Business Oregon that helped convince the bank to extend us a much-needed line of credit.

While the economic drama did not end there, new opportunities came along and we recently hired five of our workers back. And while progress may seem slow, and the roller-coaster ride exhausting, Rogue Truck Body is slowly emerging as the "last man standing" in our sector, as many of our competitors have been forced to close their doors. In the end, what matters is that we still exist, and are ready to grow again.

We know we will continue to hear about how the Oregon business community is upset about the current business climate. We know our fellow business owners across the state feel battered by higher taxes and cumbersome regulations, and buffeted by uncertain economic times.

But it is certainly good to find willing partners in state and local government and to share a little good news with our neighbors here in Southern Oregon. It is even better knowing that the experts at Business Oregon direct 90 percent of their assistance to help existing Oregon companies like ours solve their problems. And simply put, without their help, we might not exist at all.

Bill Moore is general manager of Rogue Truck Body.

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