President’s Blog

President’s Blog2024-06-05T14:56:00-07:00
Jun 052024

100 Days of Listening: A Cautious Optimism for McMinnville’s Future

Two months in, and I’m nearing the halfway point of my 100-day listening tour. Over 60 one-on-one meetings with chamber members, business owners, and government officials have painted a vivid picture of McMinnville’s current economic climate. The word I hear most often? Cautious.

There’s no looming crisis, no immediate fire to put out. However, the lingering effects of inflation, supply chain disruptions, and workforce shortages are causing many to take a measured approach. Growth plans are being carefully calculated, expansions are on hold, and a wait-and-see mentality prevails. For those poised to take the next step, the current environment demands a cautious optimism.

But here’s the thing: optimism is still there. McMinnville’s business community remains resilient. While acknowledging the challenges, the conversations I’ve had reveal a deep well of creativity and determination. Business owners are exploring innovative strategies to navigate the cost of goods. They’re forging new partnerships to address supply chain issues. And they’re actively seeking solutions to attract and retain talent. This proactive approach is exactly what fuels our confidence in McMinnville’s future.

Here’s why I remain optimistic:

  • McMinnville’s spirit of collaboration is unmatched. The willingness of businesses to work together speaks volumes. This collaborative spirit will be key in overcoming shared hurdles.
  • Our community is a magnet for talent. McMinnville’s unique blend of small-town charm and big-city amenities continues to attract skilled individuals and families. Investing in workforce housing will further strengthen this advantage.
  • We’re a place of innovation. McMinnville’s entrepreneurial spirit thrives on challenges. These current hurdles will undoubtedly spark new ideas and solutions, propelling our local economy forward.

The McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes the challenges facing our businesses and is committed to providing the support and resources needed to navigate this cautious economic climate. Here’s how we’ll be working to meet this current economic climate:

  • Unleashing Collaboration: The Chamber will act as convener, fostering connections and creating platforms for businesses to share best practices, support each other’s businesses, and collectively advocate for solutions to our challenges. Imagine a network of businesses working together, not just to survive, but to thrive in this new environment. The Chamber will be the bridge that connects these businesses.
  • Attracting and Retaining Talent: The Chamber will actively champion workforce housing initiatives, working with our government officials to create solutions that attract and retain talent. Imagine a vibrant community where skilled workers can find affordable housing, close to thriving businesses and excellent schools. The Chamber will be a champion for this vision.
  • Fueling Innovation: The Chamber will be a catalyst to help businesses innovate. We will host workshops on creative problem-solving, connect businesses with mentors and industry leaders, and celebrate innovative solutions. Imagine a wave of innovation where businesses develop creative ways to source materials, streamline operations, and attract top talent. The Chamber will be a catalyst for this innovation.

The next few months of my listening tour will be dedicated to further amplifying your voices, your concerns, and your ideas. Together, we will navigate the present and unlock the immense potential that lies ahead for McMinnville. The road may be a bit bumpy right now, but with our collective strength, creativity, and optimism, McMinnville’s future is bright.

Stay tuned for further updates on the listening tour and upcoming initiatives designed to support and empower our thriving business community!

John Olson, President/CEO

Dec 222020

Pandemic Relief Bill Update: US Chamber Relief Bill impact on small business; Paid Family Leave rules

It’s been a busy few weeks and we know everyone is excitedly getting geared up for the holidays.

As promised, we’ve been keeping an eye on the ever changing landscape of important issues affecting you and your businesses. See highlights below.

Congress came to a pandemic relief bill over the weekend and it looks similar to what we reported to you late last week. The US Chamber is hosting a meeting tomorrow (see the invitation below) to discuss the impact the pandemic bill could have on small business. The Oregon Department of Employment is seeking feedback on Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance.

  • Congress struck a deal on a stimulus package over the weekend. Here are some of the highlights:
    • The final pandemic relief package, $900B, has been agreed upon and will be voted on sometime today in the House and later tonight in the Senate.
    • It has additional PPP funding that will terminate March 31, 2021. The bill expands allowable uses for PPP funds and simplifies the loan process for loans under $150,000. Second loans would be limited to those with fewer than 300 employees and drops of at least 25% of their revenue during the first, second or third quarter of 2020. It also reduces the amount a borrower can receive from $10M to $2M.
    • Employers deferring workers’ payroll taxes under the Trump Administration executive order now have until the end of 2021 to pay back the withholding taxes owed.
    • There is $12B set aside for minority owned businesses, and expands eligibility to more non-profits, local newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters.
    • The bill creates a $15B grant program for live venues, theaters and museums that have lost at least 25% of revenues.
    • Establishes $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit, for 11 weeks from the end of December through March 14. It also extends two other unemployment programs: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. Both programs would close to new applicant on March 14 but continue through April 5 for existing claimants.
    • Establishes $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans and will begin arriving in bank accounts next week. Eligible families will receive an additional $600 per child. Payments start phasing out for individuals with adjusted gross income of more than $75,000 and those making more than $99,000 would not receive anything. Income thresholds are doubled for couples.
    • Includes a new round of funding for subsidies for hard-hit businesses and restaurants.
    • Funding of $82B for schools and colleges, $27B for transportation and $22B for health related expenses of state, local, tribal and territorial government.
    • Extends the moratorium on evictions to January 31, 2021, with $25B in rental assistance for individuals who lost their sources of income during the pandemic.
    • The bill is over 5,000 pages long (the longest bill ever), the next longest being the 2,847 page tax reform bill of 1986.

Chamber members are invited to join this call hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce, TOMORROW, December 22, 2020: Pandemic Relief Small Business Update – Please join U.S. Chamber executive vice president and chief policy officer Neil Bradley and CO— content director Jeanette Mulvey December 22, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 pm MT / 11:00 am PT / 10:00 am Alaska for a Small Business Update to hear the latest about what the pandemic relief bill could mean for the small business community.  Click here to register now.

The Oregon Department of Employment is seeking feedback from the business community on Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance proposed draft administrative rules. You can read the rules here and submit feedback. Some of the rules are time sensitive and responses must be submitted by December 31. Please take some time, if you can, to read through the draft administrative rules and submit comments. These rules could impact your business. For example, the rules define bonuses, fees, and prizes as wages and therefore subject to PFMLI contribution, and gifts are not defined as wages, therefore are not subject to PFMLI. Also note that comments submitted require a name, organization name, become part of the official record and may be made available to the public. You can sign up for updates on the administrative rules here.

OHA has added a vaccine information page to their website.

USDA has extended the foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single family housing direct loans. For more information, please visit the USDA Rural Development site:

Oregon State Chamber of Commerce has developed a strong message to the Governor and the Oregon Legislature: “Local businesses need to be made whole, and they need to be able to re-open for business now.” You can read the entire message, sign up for alerts and send a message to your legislator here:

Wishing you all the best this holiday season. If we can be of assistance to you please do let us know.

Nov 192020

Business Oregon Announced an Additional $20M in Emergency Assistance Grant Funding

Business Oregon has an additional $20M in grants for business, on top of the $55M that we told you about earlier. The Governor also announced the Give the Gift of Oregon shop local program. Oregon Ag industry employees can obtain KN95 masks. More information can be found below.

Business Oregon announced today an additional $20M  in emergency assistance grant funding. Business Oregon will fund businesses directly. The grants are available to small businesses that have seen lost revenue due to the pandemic and that meet a minimal set of requirements. The application form and additional details will be found on Business Oregon’s emergency small business assistance fund website. Applications will be reviewed on a first come first serve basis. The information will be posted for applying TODAY on the Business Oregon site. Don’t wait to apply!

    • According to the Business Oregon site, “most previous rounds also targeted businesses that did not already receive assistance through the CARES Act (such as PPP, EIDL, City of Portland Small Relief Program, the Oregon Cares Fund for Black Relief + Resiliency and other programs funded with CARES Act funds). This round will now consider applications from businesses with 1 to 25 employees that have already received anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million in funding from these federal resources. Businesses with 25 to 100 employees are eligible regardless of the amount of federal resources they received (up to $1,000,000), if they meet other program requirements.”

Governor Brown announced today an initiative to help support Oregon’s economy. Called the Give the Gift of Oregon, the campaign is a part of a comprehensive effort to support local businesses statewide. According to the press release, “Travel Oregon and Business Oregon, the state’s tourism and economic development agencies, are collaborating to carry out this consumer campaign, which runs from November 18 through December 31. The project aims to inspire Oregonians to keep it local and support their favorite businesses as they check off holiday gift lists.” Oregonian’s will be able to find featured businesses across the state, along with gift ideas on There are many buy local programs happening across the state and the promotion will highlight many of these programs on social media with the hashtag #givethegiftofOregon. Oregonians are encouraged to share their support on social media by sharing their purchases or favorite businesses using the hashtag. You can learn more about participating in the campaign by visiting Travel Oregon’s website:

The Oregon Department of Agriculture and OSU Extension are again partnering to provide free KN95 masks to farmworkers, farmers, ranchers, fishers, food processors and farm labor contractors to protect Oregon’s food and fiber workers. Handouts in English and Spanish are available and attached for you.

MaskHandout-Nov2020 (PDF)

MaskHandoutSPA-Nov2020 (PDF)

As always, we are here for you. Please email me at or call the office at 503-472-6196.

Wishing you all the best!


Oct 062020

Member Outreach

Our foggy mornings continue to remind me that Fall is here. It is my favorite time of year. The leaves are changing on the trees outside the chamber office, there’s a little nip in the air. Where did the summer go? I’ve heard said that time speeds up as you age. I think I understand that phenomenon.

Over the past months of this surreal and challenging pandemic year, our sole focus has been to ensure you, our business community, has the information and resources you need. I don’t have to tell you it isn’t over yet. Please know that we will be with you through this and into whatever happens next and beyond. This Chamber has stood for this community for over 100 years, and we will do all we can to ensure it continues to stand, for you. If there is anything that you need at this time, please call 503-472-6196 or email me at

In keeping with our commitment to provide you information that may impact you and your business, we have the following to share:

  • Please complete our short, 7 question survey It will help inform us on business trends and how we can serve you better. If you have not taken the survey, please click on this link: Thank you!
  • Currently there are 10 wildfires in Oregon with close to 1M acres burned. Some are near 100% contained. This site has a current fire and hot spot map:
  • Governor Brown has extended the moratorium on evictions until December 31, 2020. The latest moratorium does not include commercial leases, only residential.
  • Cybercriminals are targeting work at home employees. At our Cybersecurity Business Support Series webinar, our presenters mentioned the potential risk to WFH employees and what you can do to mitigate your company’s exposure. You can watch the recorded webinar here: And, the US Chamber of Commerce released a bulletin on how to assess your cyber risk here:
  • As part of our Business Support Series, we have invited City Planner Heather Richards to present to us information about the City’s effort to expand McMinnville’s Urban Growth Boundary. You can register here. It’s free with your membership.

Wishing you all the best!

Gioia Goodrum, President and CEO

Dec 312019

“The Garden Spot of the Willamette Valley”

“The Garden Spot of the Willamette Valley” a look at McMinnville 90 years ago

While going through some old files in the Chamber office, I found a report from the early 1930’s, containing some interesting statistics and information about McMinnville and Yamhill County.

Here are some highlights of the report:

  • Population of McMinnville: 3,859
  • Number of dwellings: 1,149
  • Families with telephones: 709
  • Electrical connections: 1,056 (‘off the grid’ isn’t a new concept)
  • Bank deposits: $2,849,310
  • Parks: one 22-acre park, a municipal swimming pool and a children’s playground

Local shopping days are Wednesdays and Saturdays, with most sales happening at the first of the month and peak retail season is in the fall, after harvest.

The Chamber had 212 members and met every Monday. Kiwanis had a membership of 35 and met on Wednesdays, and Rotary with a membership of 44 met every Friday. The Legion had 290 members, Odd Fellows 275 and the Elks 1000 members. There were 9 churches of various denominations. Two theatres with a total capacity of 900 and the armory had a capacity of 2,500.

Principle industries: food and kindred products, 20; forest products, 17; paper, printing and related industries, 4; stone, clay and glass, 1; machinery (not transportation), 1.

The Southern Pacific Railway line from Portland to Eugene and three lines of the Oregon Stages, Inc. with a total of 52 stages daily, served the area.

The Wholesale and Retail portion of the report mentioned there were 136 retail stores in McMinnville including:

  • Auto and truck dealers: 10
  • Independent Cigar Stores: 3
  • Department stores: 6
  • Gas and filling stations: 23
  • General stores: 6
  • Meat markets (exclusively): 3
  • Millinery: 3
  • Restaurants: 7
  • Independent shoe stores: 1

Agriculture statistics included wheat yields ranging from 55-72 bushels per acre in 1929. World recognized poultry, cherries, prunes and pears were common crops grown in the area. Potatoes had yields of 150 to 350 bushels per acre. Yamhill County led in the production of the Oregon Walnut, with a market of .22-35 cents per pound. Some of the ten-year-old trees were known to produce over 100 pounds of nuts per season. Filberts (aka Hazelnuts), a larger and sweeter version than those imported from Italy, were in great demand.

The report notes the community has “cheap” electrical power (thank you MWL). Water was supplied from a 112,000,000-gallon reservoir, stating that the water supply “is 100 per cent pure, containing no chemical purifier and noted for its quality”. Natural gas was not available in McMinnville at the time.

McMinnville had 1,166 families and 1,308 passenger automobiles, or roughly more than one car per family.

Land was reasonably priced at $25-50 per acre for hill and foothill land. High grade valley land was $75-150 per acre.

The report ended the with the following words of advise “If you would live where there are no cyclones, tornadoes and blustering winds, where lightning and thunderstorms are unknown; where ocean beaches and forest beauty is a short drive away; where wintery blasts are never felt; where vegetation is green the year around and where living is worth while, then come to the heart of the Willamette valley and to McMinnville.”

The information in this blog post came from a report printed by the Telephone Register Publishing Company, McMinnville (now the News-Register) and researched by Earl Bunting and Associates Marketing Counsellors, from Portland Oregon for the McMinnville Chamber of Commerce, early 1930’s. Information collected, was as printed.
Aug 142019

The Chamber Is…

What does a chamber do?

I get asked this a lot. The short answer is, we do a lot of different things and they can be boiled down to three themes:

  • The Chamber is a convener of community leaders from all walks of life, businesses and experiences.
  • The Chamber is a catalyst for good in our community.
  • The Chamber is a champion through advocacy, business promotion and involvement in shaping the future of our community.

As a convener, we gather influential leaders to solve issues within our community. We provide members opportunities to meet, conduct business and support our local economy. We encourage businesses to support each other to develop a strong local economy and we create networks and help build relationships.

As a catalyst we are uniquely positioned to influence change for good in our community. Our programs are geared to grow leaders within our community and develop, encourage and support entrepreneurs.

We champion our community by building bridges between our members, each other and the community. We act as intermediaries between the community, business and government and are part of the ‘inner circle’ of McMinnville. Our community resources knowledge base is expansive-we are the place to get information. The Chamber Board is made up of business professionals representing a wide array of industry and commerce. We advocate for business-friendly legislation at local, county, state and federal levels. We educate and provide awareness of public policy issues impacting business.

The chamber is the largest business association in McMinnville, supporting, promoting and encouraging a strong local economy through a variety of programs, resources and activities.

Mar 282019

Keys to a Small Business Owner’s Peace of Mind

If you are a small business owner, you likely know that there are areas of focus that are important to your success. Our local SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) representative Bill Taylor has given us his “Keys to a small business owner’s peace of mind”.

*CASH FLOW – positive cash flow and its importance to your future success. The Cash Flow Statement shows you the movement of money in and out of your business; the inflows and outflows that determine the solvency of your business. A positive cash flow is good, a negative cash flow is, well, not so good.

*ATTRACTING NEW CUSTOMERS – Generating leads to gain new customers is difficult. Where do I advertise? How much time should I spend on social media and which is most effective? Identify your ideal customer/client; know where your ideal customer/client lives; be the answer to your customers pain points; and build partnerships by networking in the community where your customer lives.

*CUSTOMER LOYALTY – In today’s hyper connected world, word spreads fast and far. Online reviews can be good or bad for business. Managing it all while running a business can be tough. How are you developing and managing your customers by developing a consistently positive emotional experience when they purchase from you? THE CUSTOMER IS KING!

*MAKING PAYROLL AND MANAGING EMPLOYEES – Even if you have one employee, being in compliance with state and federal laws is necessary and can be time consuming. There are resources to help with HR issues, compliance and questions you may have. Ask your SCORE mentor, your chamber of commerce or association for help.

*YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE – Your company website: is it doing the job for you? Do you have goals for your site in terms of generating business? How are your social media accounts linked to your website? Online lead generation can help a business.

*NETWORKING – Join the McMinnville Chamber of Commerce, Young Professionals of Yamhill County or other networking organizations to help grow your business through local connections. Take the time and effort to meet and get to know new people at each meeting.

*RESOURCES – Take advantage of:

  • McMinnville Chamber of Commerce
  • SCORE Volunteers
  • SBA (Small Business Association)
  • Oregon Secretary of State Website

*KNOW YOUR COMPETITION – Work to stay one step ahead. What are they doing?

*TOUCH BASE with similar businesses in other markets/states. Find out what is working for them. See if there is a business association for your industry and learn what your colleagues are doing.

*HIRE A GOOD ACCOUNTANT/CPA – One you feel comfortable talking to. Get a referral from a friend or business colleague that you trust.

*CONTACT A SCORE MENTOR for FREE business advice. SCORE mentors have seen it all and can be a great resource for you and your business. They are knowledgeable and understand the challenges of being in a small business. You can reach the local SCORE office at (503)370-2896 or (503)857-0292 to make an appointment with an advisor.


Dec 162018

Continuing to Learn

When I joined my first chamber in 2011, I had, what I thought was, a good understanding of the chamber role in a community. Of course, I’d attended chamber events, connected with many members and thought I knew about the purpose of a chamber of commerce. Becoming the CEO of a chamber of commerce was eye-opening, to say the least.

Fast forward seven years, and I still am learning about a chamber of commerce. There is an old chamber adage: ‘if you’ve seen one chamber, you’ve seen one chamber’. In other words, they are all different. But really, are they?

A Historical Perspective

Chambers of commerce are the business hub of a community. In communities with a thriving chamber of commerce, you will find a thriving community of business. They go hand in hand. The first chamber of commerce was founded in Marseille in 1599, providing merchants, tradesmen, and craftsmen a forum to discuss issues they faced in their community. The Boston Chamber of Commerce organized the Boston Tea Party, launching the Revolutionary War. Chambers of commerce make a difference. They are the strongest and most important assembly of businesses in the world. Being a member of a chamber of commerce lends a business credibility in the marketplace and more importantly, a deeper connection to the community.

The chamber of commerce model has lasted for centuries because of its ability to provide value to members. Chambers do this through a variety of programs and services, providing members with exposure to markets, a voice on legislative issues and a place to gather to solve problems within a community.

Commitment to Community

The McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce’s commitment to our community is no different than it was 100 years ago at its founding. The Chamber will continue to be the premier business association in McMinnville, provide our members with quality promotional opportunities, build strong networks and relationships, and provide education and awareness on public policy issues.

If you’d like to learn more about what the Chamber is doing for you, give us a call at 503-472-6196.

First Federal partners with Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines to Award $10,000 to Yamhill Carlton Together Cares through the Member Impact Fund

Grant program supports affordable housing and community development. McMinnville, OR— [...]

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Chamber Welcomes John Olson, New President and CEO

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McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce Honors Caitlin Sticka as a Community Champion

The McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce announces Caitlin Sticka of [...]

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McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce Announces New President and CEO

The McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce [...]

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John Olson, President & CEO • McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce

John Olson, President/CEO

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