Oregon State University; Oregon State University - Cascades; OSU-Cascades; Innovation Co-Lab; Blue Fund; Minority entrepreneurs

The Blue Fund program in the OSU-Cascades Innovation Co-Lab is made possible by a gift from Facebook.

Jan 19, 2021

To help increase the success of minority-owned businesses in Central Oregon, Oregon State University – Cascades’ Innovation Co-Lab has partnered with area organizations to launch a program for underserved entrepreneurs in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties. The program will provide participants with coaching, business plan development tools, and access to financial resources including loans, investment capital and grants, as well as ongoing advising.

The Blue Fund program is made possible thanks to a $10,000 gift from the Facebook Prineville Data Center that was secured by the OSU Foundation.

“The number of minority-owned small businesses in the U.S. grew by 79% between 2007 and 2017, yet minority entrepreneurs are three times as likely to be rejected for a business loan,” said Adam Krynicki, executive director of the Innovation Lab. “Facebook’s generous gift will allow the Innovation Co-Lab to support underserved entrepreneurs in Central Oregon, perhaps saving them from total loss during the pandemic and giving all of them tools to thrive.”

The Blue Fund program received in-kind contributions from the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, Bend Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development of Central Oregon, Opportunity Knocks and the Small Business Development Center at Central Oregon Community College. The organizations will provide free or discounted memberships, participate in Blue Fund workshops and provide experts to assist with individual coaching.

Student interns in the Innovation Co-Lab will provide technical assistance and support for participating entrepreneurs.

“Facebook is committed to supporting diverse small businesses by helping give them the tools, training, mentorship and resources they need to be successful. We are proud to partner with the OSU-Cascades Innovation Co-Lab to help empower underserved Central Oregon entrepreneurs through this innovative program,” said William Marks, community development regional manager with Facebook. 

The first cohort of the Blue Fund program starts Jan. 27. Interested entrepreneurs can apply at osucascades.edu/bluefund. For additional information contact adam.krynicki@osucascades.edu.

About OSU-Cascades: Oregon State University’s campus in Bend, Ore. features outstanding faculty in degree programs that reflect Central Oregon’s vibrant economy and abundant natural resources. Nearly 20 undergraduate majors, 35 minors and options, and three graduate programs include computer science, energy systems engineering, kinesiology, hospitality management, and tourism, recreation and adventure leadership. OSU-Cascades expanded to a four-year university in 2015; its new campus opened in 2016.