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News / Business / Clark County Business

Vancouver event at Cascade Park Library shows resources abound for small-business entrepreneurs

Friday fair sponsored by U.S. Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 29, 2024, 6:20pm
2 Photos
Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber senior business developer Kimberly Quiroz, from left, student representative and Franklin High School sophomore Brianna Quiroz, and scholarship coordinator Norma Palacios talk to attendee Diane Calderon on Friday, during a small business event at Cascade Park Library in Vancouver.
Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber senior business developer Kimberly Quiroz, from left, student representative and Franklin High School sophomore Brianna Quiroz, and scholarship coordinator Norma Palacios talk to attendee Diane Calderon on Friday, during a small business event at Cascade Park Library in Vancouver. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Budding entrepreneurs and owners of small businesses gathered Friday at the Cascade Park Library in east Vancouver for a two-hour resource fair sponsored by U.S. Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Skamania.

Envy Lambird, a Vancouver native, showed up to the fair hoping to get a better idea of how to create a successful business buying and selling bulk products.

“I’m finding it pretty impressive how many resources are here just in one room in this library,” he said.

Sean Wilson from the Small Business Administration’s Portland office said these kinds of events give visibility to resources available for entrepreneurs.

“Owning a small business can be a very lonely experience,” Wilson said. People often don’t know what is available and think they need to find resources on their own, he said.

“We help those business owners get to the next best place,” he said.

Helen Price Johnson, Washington state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural development department, spoke with attendees at the fair. One popular resource her department offers is its Rural Energy for America program, which helps small businesses invest in energy efficiency and green energy.

“The idea is really to help rural businesses enhance their bottom line,” she said.

With rising energy prices for both electricity and natural gas, this issue has become especially important for Clark County’s business community.

The event wasn’t without conflict, however. Activists supporting Palestine gathered outside the library to protest Perez’s voting record on the Middle East, although she didn’t attend the event.

The freshman congresswoman serves on the small business committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. She also campaigned on her experience as a small-business owner. She co-founded an auto repair shop in Portland.

About a dozen organizations offered resources at the fair, including the Washington Small Business Development Center, the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber, Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs and the small-business mentorship organization SCORE.

Current and budding entrepreneurs were able to learn about resources for starting or expanding a business, federal grant and contract opportunities, and support that’s available for rural, women-, veteran- and minority-owned businesses.

Those who couldn’t attend the event can find a list of resources for small-business owners at https://gluesenkampperez.house.gov/small-business-and-financial-resources.

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