Governor’s Marketplace Connects Small Businesses to New Opportunities


Salem, OR— Sheldon Penner can cook 52 pancakes every two minutes, feeding nearly 400 people per hour. As the owner and “Chief Flipper” of Chris Cakes Northwest, he runs a specialized catering company that turns pancake breakfasts into a fun interactive food experience. But one of his biggest challenges as a business owner with unique services is connecting with the right people to let them know his services exist.

That’s where the Governor’s Marketplace can help. The Marketplace brings together small businesses, exhibitors and public partners from across the state to discuss the various resources available to help business owners, such as state agencies with public contracting opportunities.

“As a small business, sometimes you don’t know who to talk to. At the Marketplace, the ‘who’s’ and people you need to talk to are there. And if the right person isn’t there, they can connect you,” said Sheldon. “What makes my business unique is that people can call me and say, ‘Hey, can you come out tomorrow morning and feed 400 people?’ and if I’m not booked, the answer is yes!”

After networking at the conference last year, Sheldon landed a gig cooking for the emergency responders during the historic 2017 wildfire response — a time and place where lots of food was needed quickly, for many hungry, hard-working people.

“Oregon’s small businesses are a driving force of our statewide economy,” said Governor Kate Brown. “The Marketplace Conference is helping to eliminate barriers to public contracting, so business owners have equal access to the resources and opportunities to start, sustain, and thrive in all communities throughout Oregon.”

The Marketplace Conference, which is sponsored by the Governor’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, connects Oregon’s small businesses to contracting opportunities and business resources with local and state agencies, federal government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private firms.

About Author

Natalie King serves on the Communications Team with the Office of Governor Kate Brown.

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