Katy Nesbitt
The La Grande Observer

“I had been working on the lodge campaign to save Wallowa Lake Lodge and I went to a presentation by John McDougal, of McDougal Bats, to see if a community public offering would apply to the project. At the presentation I realized a CPO would really fit my project.”

— Judy Goodman, owner of BGood Bars

JOSEPH — A growing Joseph business is the first in the region to participate in a community public offering that allows Oregon-based businesses to raise up to $250,000 from fellow Oregonians.

Judy Goodman started BGood Bars, a line of gourmet energy bars, just over two years ago. This spring, she took advantage of a new opportunity made legal through the Oregon Intrastate Offering Exemption rules in January 2015 that offers small business owners the opportunity to raise capital from all Oregon residents, regardless of wealth.

One of the advantages of starting a small business in Northeastern Oregon is the support entrepreneurs have from the Northeast Oregon Economic Development District. Goodman said when she launched BGood Bars she enrolled in two of the district’s programs — the foundations course, a six-week accelerated business class, and the Independent Development
Account, a special savings
account that helps entrepreneurs save money to invest in their business.

A few years ago the district teamed up with Hatch Innovation of Portland to promote local investment. Lisa Dawson, the district’s executive director, said before the CPO law was passed Hatch Innovations, of Portland, and the district were already talking about local investment in Eastern Oregon.

“We had meetings to introduce the idea to potential investors — to show them how they could take their money out of Wall Street and put it on Main Street,” Dawson said.

Last winter, the Northeast Oregon Community Capital Collaborative, which the district is a member, Hatch Oregon and the Blue Mt. Community College Small Business Development Center hosted evening presentations in Baker City and Joseph for entrepreneurs interested in launching community public offerings.

Goodman and Diane White, BGood Bars’ manager of operations and accounting, are the first to complete the 10-week InvestOR Ready Accelerator course in Wallowa County. The class prepares Oregon small business entrepreneurs to raise startup or growth capital from ordinary Oregonians using the new Community Public Offering law. Goodman said she first heard about community public offerings at a District sponsored workshop held this winter in Joseph.

“I had been working on the lodge campaign to save Wallowa Lake Lodge and I went to a presentation by John McDougal, of McDougal Bats, to see if a community public offering would apply to the project. At the presentation I realized a CPO would really fit my project,” Goodman said.

She said the InvestOR Ready Accelerator class was offered for free, so despite her busy schedule, she carved out time for the classes three hours once a week in the basement of the Enterprise City Library.

“In 10 weeks, we defined our business, a process separate than defining the product, which was the hardest thing for me,” Goodman said.

She said she had already written her business plan in the district’s foundations course before taking the CPO course.

“By the time you get to this program you should have a business plan of some sort,” Goodman said.

Next, she and White drafted a prospectus while determining the market for boutique energy bars in a field swamped with options. Small tweaks were made to their packaging and names of a couple of the bars were changed to make the bars more marketable, Goodman said. Last week, BGood Bars launched its community public offering at the Winding Waters Raftering Expeditions boat house in Joseph.

Dawson said the CPO law, that went into effect in 2015, allows entrepreneurs to raise money to help their businesses grow.

“In the last year more than $400,000 was invested in Oregon businesses t hrough community capital public offerings,” Dawson said. “Judy’s is the first in Northeastern Oregon.”

Before the CPO law was enacted, Dawson said private investment had to be between people who knew each other personally. She said she thinks an investor being able to meet an entrepreneur and see how the business works is still an advantage.

“I think it will have an impact on how people invest — if they like what they see. It is still much more personal than handing money to a stockbroker or a mutual fund,” Dawson said.

Now, Goodman is a poster child for community public offerings and participated in two panels at a community capital conference held in Portland last month.

“What was neat at the conference was we could see what other states are going through,” Dawson said. “There are 20 or 30 states that have similar laws.”

Dawson said they are all different, but are taking advantage of intrastate exemptions that allow businesses to raise money from residents in their own state.

For Goodman, the conference exposed her to other entrepreneurs seeking local capital investments and new customers.

“It provided an opportunity for investors to find local artisan food companies, brewers and family farmers who are looking to use these new state-based laws,” Goodman said.