Vancouver technology firm chosen for SBA program

Elyon International to receive training

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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A Vancouver-based technology company is among the 15 Portland-Vancouver area companies that will participate in the U.S. Small Business Association's "Emerging Leaders Initiative," a federal training program that kicked off in Portland on Tuesday.

Elyon International Inc. which provides information technology and business services to government and Fortune 500 companies, joined in the kickoff event at the ODS Tower in downtown Portland. Over the next eight months, Elyon and other participating companies will receive 100 hours of classroom training through the program, which is targeted for executives of established businesses that are poised for growth.

The national program has been offered in the Portland area for four of the past five years, serving some 44 businesses, according to the SBA. LKE Corp., a Washougal-based excavation firm previously enrolled in the program, was a presenter at Tuesday's kickoff event.

More than 30 companies applied for the Portland program, one of 27 being held this year nationwide, said Calvin Goings, SBA's Seattle-based Region X Administrator.

"We're very excited," said Goings, who was in Portland for the kickoff event. "Having over 30 apply and being able to take only 15 clearly shows the demand."

Goings described the program's curriculum as being "MBA-like," with an executive-level focus. It helps executives build new business relationships, while offering mentorship services in issues such as obtaining financing and new business, including government contracts.

Most of the businesses in the program have just a few employees and many are woman- or minority-owned, Goings said. "These are Main Street small businesses that support the chamber and Little League," he said in a telephone interview.

The agency hopes to continue and expand the program, which is offered at no cost to participants, but it has to balance that expansion against the need to protect its core programs during a period of budget cuts, he said.

"We want to make sure, with programs like this, that we continue to have ability to go forward," he said.