Notes from Colleen’s Desk: Let it Go!

Whether you have grandchildren like I do, or not, most of us are probably agonizingly acquainted with the Disney “Frozen” movies, more than we may care to admit!

In a recent visit with my nearly 3-year old twin grandchildren, I actually learned the words to the Frozen theme song, “Let It Go.” How could I not memorize the lyrics as my princess granddaughter wore her Elsa dress and clip-on braid while swirling around me singing that infectious, hard to forget tune…for most of the day? 

While I do not have magical powers like Elsa to cause an object to become frozen, I have been frozen in place lately as I have pondered things I ought to let go of. I’m not talking here about my Santa, coffee mug or bandana collection at home, but SOREDI’s database system.  

I am admittedly quite attached to our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software because it is what I have defaulted to for over 20 years of relationship building here at SOREDI. And for those of us who have determined they need a better and more nimble CRM that tracks activities and outcomes to the nth degree, you know that the transition in exporting thousands of records from one system to the other is daunting.  Freezing (in denial) seems more appealing to me and more like a walk on the warm sandy beach suddenly.  

Yet, that transition is in the works now and staff assures me I will be okay.  I warned them however, to be very careful not to touch my hard copy folders of businesses still stored in rows of file cabinets. Those are the tangible representation of so many companies I visited over the years. I am still pondering that purge, while also seeing my therapist.  

But there are two long standing, successful programs managed by SOREDI that we won’t be letting go of anytime soon. Let’s chat a bit about SOREDI’s role as the Enterprise Zone Manager and Gap Financer in Southern Oregon.  


Enterprise Zones 

There is lots of talk in economic development about incentives for growing businesses. Many states can offer cash for new and expanding companies. In Oregon however, our primary incentive is property tax abatement on new incremental capital improvements. 

Only traded sector companies, regional headquarters and hotel developments are eligible for this incentive in our region, and eligible companies must also create 10% new jobs. 

Over our last fiscal year (July 1 – June 30), 10 companies were approved for enterprise zone benefits to the tune of $54.6 million in expected new capital investments and an impact of 225 jobs. Southern Oregon has four Enterprise Zones – Medford Urban, Jackson County Rural, Grants Pass Urban, and Rogue (Josephine County).  SOREDI has been serving as Enterprise Zone Manager since 1998 

Since inception, we have processed over 185 enterprise zone applications with a total estimated investment (at the time of application) of nearly $499.4 millionand the creation/retention of 13,211 jobs. 


Gap Financing 

Since the creation of our gap financing program in 1995, which was seeded in large part by federal funds and local partners, SOREDI has lent over $21 million to companies seeking to launch, relocate and prosper in Southern Oregon. 

I have said this before but from a banker’s perspective that number may seem small until you realize that that amount was only the SOREDI portion of the whole project budget. Gap financing through SOREDI made it possible for about 250 businesses to move forward on their expansion or startup.  

This past fiscal year, we lent $1.1 million to 5 growing businesses, while 3 clients successfully paid off their loans. To date SOREDI is still servicing 41 loan clients.  

Maybe you would like to let go of some of the recent fog and breath some fresh air inside! Learn about one of Southern Oregon’s newest startups, SOREDI’s most recent loan client –  Clean Air Protectors – your indoor air specialists. 

Surely, there is a lot more nuance to our enterprise zone and gap financing programs than I have mentioned in this brief writing.  

The key takeaway here is for you to not let this information go, but to share immediately with a growing business. We count on you to help us spread the word that economic development resources are available. Please visit our recently updated website and learn more about how SOREDI is helping business prosper.  




Colleen Padilla, Executive Director 


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