Corvallis Business: Downtown Comings and Goings, Lora DiCarlo Flameout, Whiteside Director State Grant Testimony, Oregon VC Dollars, and Your Business Events Calendar

Scuttlebutt has it that Syrian cuisine will be coming to town, the social media swirl starting with the post of a window flyer from a local foodie. Emblazoned atop the sheet of paper were two words: Khalo Naser, with a description of the coming “cuisine and lounge” below. From what we’re reading, Naser had owned restaurants “back home” since 1991. Reliable rumor has it the new place lands where Beerhause, and 101 had been.

In the same building, you’ve almost certainly heard that Big River Bakery exited last month. Long ago, there had also been a restaurant with the Big River name as well, but that was purchased by Mazama, which is no longer operating the restaurant at all.

With all those comings and goings, a glass of wine may be in order. Corazón is a new wine tasting bar and bottle shop located at 208 SW 2nd Street. What they say about themselves, “The Willamette Valley’s premier destination for wine enthusiasts, industry professionals, and the curious.” They specialize in wines from across the Pacific Northwest with select imports from Spain, Mexico, and around the world.

Moving from food and drink: Once high-flying sex-tech startup Lora DiCarlo appears to have crashed and burned, quite possibly due to pilot error from its founder and CEO. Founded in 2017, the company in its brief heyday had offices both here and in Bend – and its technology largely issued from work at OSU’s college of engineering.

Then in 2019 the company received the kind of attention a publicist can only dream of. Lora DiCarlo scored an innovation award at the annual Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show for its signature sex toy, the Osé – but was then booted from the show for being “immoral, obscene, indecent, profane.” Their award was then revoked as well.

In response, founder Lora Haddock crafted letters for both the company’s site and The Washington Post, which then motivated national outlets like the New York Times and Wired to do their own reporting.

All of this became a coup for the company. Presale orders topped $1 million, investors were eager. The Consumer Electronics award was reinstated.

Fast forward to late last year, the company’s site disappears, and nobody from the company is returning any calls from anyone. Allegations the founder and other executives had sexually harassed employees abound, as does discussion of financial impropriety. There are a fistful of BOLI complaints. For more reporting on DiCarlo, click here.

Whiteside Director Testifies: Oregon House Bill 2459 would allocate $22.6 million to arts and entertainment venues throughout Oregon. Here in Corvallis, The Whiteside would get about $40,000 and The Majestic $103,000.

In testimony submitted to the House Economic Development and Small Business Committee, Whiteside Executive Director Jen Waters said, “We have had not only loss of staff, but a great deal of shifting as people’s priorities changed and we were, and still are, unable to provide enough hours to staff to pay for their basic needs.”

In 2020, arts and culture organizations throughout the state received $50 million in federal pandemic relief. The current $22.6 million would come from state funds.

State VC Matching Fund: Oregon has some State Small Business Credit Initiative dollars burning in their pockets, and folks seeking to apply need to do so by Feb. 28, 2023.

Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency, believes venture capital fund managers can play an important role in Oregon’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Oregonians can leverage fund managers’ expertise, networks, and private capital to develop and maintain a strong pipeline of high-growth opportunities.

The agency is looking to invest a portion of its overall SSBCI allocation in SEC-accredited venture capital funds in need of capital to become operational or scale up significantly. The SSBCI program places an emphasis on fund managers with access to startups led by Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Individuals. Business Oregon is preliminarily allocating $15 million.

Basic criteria for venture capital fund strategies include:

· State participation limited to Oregon companies only.

· Average portfolio company of fewer than 500 employees.

· Average check size to portfolio companies smaller than $5 million.

· Portfolio company equity rounds smaller than $20 million.

· Funds must demonstrate that $1 from the BOV Fund Program will “cause and result” in at least $1 of new private financing at the fund level.

For a fuller picture of the eligibility requirements visit the U.S. Treasury’s website.

To learn more and download the application, visit the BOV Fund Program webpage. Please email with questions about the BOV Fund Program. For clarification purposes, The Business Oregon Venture Direct Program is separate from the BOV Fund Program. More information on these and other SSBCI-funded venture capital, venture debt, and small business lending programs can be found on Business Oregon’s website.

And here’s what’s going on this week, and early next….

Multi-Generation Family Business: A family’s journey as an industry leading company with nearly four decades of experience renovating and retrofitting historic hotels offers tips for folks navigating both family and business together. This Oregon State University Family Business 360 event features the Hraba Family of Waterford Hotels & Inns. Learn from Waterford’s leadership, Kristen, Patricia, Bruce, and Michael Hraba as they discusses their experiences utilizing shared decision making in order to facilitate harmonious leadership.

8:30 to 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 8. Hosted by the OSU College of Business Center for Family Enterprise, the event is free and virtual, register here.

Atomic Habits: The Growth & Mindset Book Club for Business discusses one book a month with the intention to come away being more empowered, motivated, and knowledgeable about business, career, and professional development. This month’s book: Atomic Habits by James Clear.

5 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 8 at The Biere Library, 151 NW Monroe Ave, Corvallis.

Wanna Start a Business: The Small Business Development Center is offering a great class for first-time entrepreneurs, and it’s totally cost free. Titled Going Into Business, it’s just one session, and you’ll get all the basic information you will need to begin planning your business. Rules, regulations, financing, customers, markets, and feasibility will all be discussed. This seminar is offered through Zoom video conferencing. Runs from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Feb. 13. Click here to register.

OSU Business Grad Programs: It’s a virtual session introducing Graduate Business Programs at Oregon State University. In this online session attendees will learn about graduate program options in the College of Business, including the MBA, Master’s, and Graduate Certificates programs. Attendees will get an introduction to the curriculum, program tracks, admission and financial aid, and what sets Oregon State apart from other programs. Oregon State University offers graduate business programs in Portland, Corvallis, and online.

Tuesday, February 14 at 12 to 1 pm. Click  here to register.

Women in Business Luncheon: Attorney Lorena Reynolds has been in private practice in Corvallis since 2004, and she is the managing partner of The Reynolds Law Firm, PC. She specializes in family law, victims’ rights, and social justice issues. In addition to being a mediator and arbitrator, she has litigated hundreds of cases, handled many appeals, and worked on policy and legislation at the state and local levels.

She is a frequent speaker on a variety of legal topics, and has appeared a number of times at our CitySpeak town halls. Reynolds has also been a go-to for Advocate reporters seeking expert perspectives on a wide variety of civil rights stories over the years.

Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 12 to 1 pm, at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Corvallis, 400 SW 1st Street. Click here to register.

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