As Turner Waskom sees it, Craft3 is filling a much-needed funding gap for Central Oregon businesses. The Bend office of this Ilwaco, Washington-based community development finance institution makes loans to companies that are unable to access traditional funding sources. “We’re also mission driven,” said Waskom, Craft3’s vice president and senior lender in Bend. “We want to build economic, ecological and family resilience in rural communities.”
Craft3 lends to startups and long-term businesses that may not qualify for a traditional bank loan for a variety of reasons. The company may be too new, not meet a bank’s requirements or need a complicated financial solution. Craft3 receives its funding via investment partnerships and loans from nonprofit foundations and large financial institutions, and lends money at a slightly higher-than-average interest rate. “We’re never anyone’s final solution, but we’re good partners,” said Waskom.
Since opening its Bend office in 2013, Craft3 has provided vital capital to well-known Central and Eastern Oregon companies. It facilitated a $10 million loan to Fry Foods last year, so that the company could purchase and reopen an onion processing plant in Ontario, Oregon. The deal will create more than 300 jobs in one of the most economically depressed areas of the state.
Craft3 was also instrumental in helping Skjersaa’s ski shop maintain its business and relocate. It provided funding to help Redmond-based Straw Propeller grow and Rat Hole Brewery to launch. Craft3 has also invested in the Bend Venture Conference and Cascade Angels. So far, there is a steady need for capital sources, and Waskom anticipates that will continue. “There’s such a strong entrepreneurial spirit here,” said Waskom. “I can’t believe how many small businesses are growing in the area.”
— Kelly Kearsley