KeyBank Foundation announced its largest grant ever in the Oregon/Southwest Washington market, an effort that will help support small businesses’ development in the area. Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO) received a grant of $250,000. KeyBank's investment will allow MESO to offer comprehensive business development and small business technical assistance services to over 150 clients in each of the two grant years, with a focus on the area’s growing minority and women-owned business sectors.

KeyBank Helps Communities

“Our mission is to help our communities thrive, and nowhere is that more important than in underserved communities that often lack access to business expertise and funding,” said Michelle Weisenbach, KeyBank's Oregon and SW Washington Market President. “We are delighted to partner with MESO to help these industrious small-scale entrepreneurs improve their communities through business development, as we have seen that MESO’s proven model and comprehensive services lead to increased revenue, business retention and loan repayment.”

Weisenbach added that KeyBank was impressed by MESO’s success rate, where 92% of clients remain in business after graduating from MESO's programs and loan repayment is 99%.

Positive Outcomes Expected from Grant

MESO services supported by the grant include individualized business education, planning, goal setting, accounting/tax assistance, market research, mentoring/peer support, access to financing and savings programs, and referrals to community resources.

Since the summer of 2017, MESO has assisted 65 diverse entrepreneurs in the city of Gresham, Oregon, with business planning, building credit and understanding financial statements.

“MESO's ability to attract experienced, culturally competent staff, mentors, volunteers and partners gives us an edge in understanding clients' challenges and the best approaches for overcoming barriers,” says MESO Executive Director Nita Shah. “We appreciate KeyBank’s generous support that will allow us to bring these proven programs to Gresham entrepreneurs.” With support from the grant, MESO will play a key role in the city’s largest urban renewal project in Gresham’s history – Rockwood Rising. Scheduled to break ground late this spring, the development will include a Market Hall featuring space for micro-entrepreneurs, food vendors, pop-up shops and more established businesses. MESO’s technical assistance to potential Market Hall tenants will help them bring their business dreams to life.