Opening Doors for Oregon’s Small Businesses


SALEM — Did you know that Oregon state government invests billions of dollars every year to serve the needs of Oregonians? In an effort to invest some of those dollars into Oregon’s local businesses, state agencies annually come together with business owners from across the state to connect about public contracting opportunities and business resources.

More than 1,000 people from across the state participated in this year’s Governor’s Marketplace.

This annual gathering is called the Governor’s Marketplace, and this year drew over 1,000 entrepreneurs and small business owners together with state and federal government agencies, local municipalities, non-profit organizations, and private firms to network and discuss the various opportunities and resources available. On the face, it’s a supplier conference, but at the heart of the Governor’s Marketplace is a movement committed to elevating and inspiring equity in state government.

“Oregon’s small businesses are a driving force of our statewide economy,” said Governor Kate Brown. “We want to help 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 Governor’s Marketplace is helping Oregonians like Sheldon Penner, owner and “Chief Flipper” of Chris Cakes Northwest — a specialized catering company that turns pancake breakfasts into a fun, interactive food experience. Sheldon says one of the biggest challenges as a business owner with unique services is connecting with the right people to let them know his services exist.

Sheldon Penner of Chris Cakes Northwest, cooking pancakes for firefighters.

“As a small business, sometimes you don’t know who to talk to. At the Marketplace, the people you need to talk to are there. And if the right person isn’t there, they can connect you,” said Sheldon. Through the Governor’s Marketplace, Sheldon landed a gig cooking for the emergency responders fighting the historic 2017 wildfires. It was a time and place where lots of food was needed quickly, for many hungry, hard-working people and Sheldon’s business was the perfect fit.

The Governor’s Marketplace is sponsored by the Governor’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. To learn more, visit

About Author

Eloisa Miller is the Economic & Business Equity Manager for the Office of Governor Kate Brown. In this capacity she is tasked with tackling barriers facing Oregon businesses, including those owned by minorities, women, and service-disabled veterans. Eloisa is committed to helping Oregon thrive through her role at the Governor’s Office, working with all state agencies to promote and implement program initiatives in an effort to create equity in contracting.

Comments are closed.