Central to the conversation surrounding Rockwood Rising is the project's partnership with Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO). MESO provides business development support to minority-owned, women-owned, and emerging small businesses (MWESB), and has been serving the greater Portland region for more than 10 years. The Rockwood Rising Project is proud to partner with MESO, and has been actively working with them to create new project-specific programming since 2017.
One of the largest parts of Rockwood Rising's goal to create revitalization without displacement is to utilize and support small, local businesses instead of major chains. Specifically, the project's Market Hall is designed to be an "incubator space" for Rockwood residents who want to begin businesses--creating opportunities for stability and growth for people already in the neighborhood. Rockwood Rising makes this a goal because feedback from the community revealed a widespread desire to start new businesses, and starting a business is difficult work. There are licenses to obtain, hoops to jump through, and lots of up-front overhead expenses. Without consistent help, many new small businesses fail.
Rockwood Rising is navigating these challenges in large part through its partnership with MESO. While the development project will provide the infrastructure--new, small, subsidized spaces for new businesses to set up shop, MESO will be onsite to provide one-on-one coaching, support, and financial planning for new business owners.
Programming has already begun. Now situated in the Rockwood Community Office just across the street from the Catalyst Site, MESO is providing free and low-cost coaching sessions, classes, and lending to residents who would like to begin providing products and services. Upon completion of the development project, MESO will be housed onsite to continue providing support for small business owners who will launch in one of the three buildings. Check out our partner video below for an introduction to MESO and the great work they already do in the neighborhood:
MESO is a 5031c3 nonprofit, now providing free and low-cost services at 478 NE 187th Ave Portland, OR 97233. For more information about their services, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 503-841-3351. For more information about the Rockwood Rising project, email RockwoodRising@GreshamOregon.gov or call 503-618-3208.