TED HUCKINS, owner of the William Joseph Gallery on Southwest Yamhill, got worried when he first heard light rail construction was to begin on either side of his storefront in 2007. And for good reason: He remembers when businesses failed as a result of the original light rail construction in 1986.
That's why he was particularly grateful for guidance from students in PSU's Business Outreach Program (BOP).
BOP teamed with TriMet, the Portland Development Commission, and the city of Portland to sustain and improve small businesses affected by the construction. Overall, they assisted 32 businesses, each receiving up to 250 hours of specialized services. The BOP also packaged $235,000 in loans to 10 of the businesses.
PSU business students helped Huckins, whose gallery sells Oregon landscape photography, create a new business strategy that focuses on business clients instead of walk-in customers. The strategy included a new product: high-definition video footage of scenic Oregon that can be displayed in office and hospital settings. A low-interest loan of $17,500 for computers and software is making this new venture possible.
Although the gallery saw a significant decline in walk-in traffic during the Portland Transit Mall and MAX Green Line construction, and was also hit by the recent economic downturn, Huckins credits the PSU students for helping to keep his business afloat.
"I have the highest appreciation for everybody that was involved at Portland State and TriMet," says Huckins. "They helped me believe I would survive."
[Photo by Tyler Brain]