I was given the chance to introduce myself in a new way yesterday in - of all places - Yoncalla.
"Hi, I'm Brian Prawitz. I am the owner of BP Media. This is my third day of self-employment."
It was cool.
The room was filled with about 40 people who had gathered at the historic Birch Street Church for the 8th Douglas County Chambers & Cities Summit.
This group meets twice a year to answer the question: "How's business going in Douglas County?" Over the three hours we were together, Commissioner Chris Boice and Mickey Beach from the Umpqua Basin Economic Alliance provided updates on recent developments and each person had the chance to share their two cents.
Other than the clear message that people from outside of Roseburg really hate hearing all about Roseburg, the overwhelming feeling in the room was one of optimism.
It seems like things are getting better.
People who have been fanning the smoldering ember of entrepreneurism are seeing a flickering flame. New ideas and efforts and projects and goals are emerging all over the county.
Marketing and branding efforts are producing results. Cities are launching new efforts to attract visitors. The topic of a Douglas County Chamber of Commerce is surfacing again.
Each community in the Umpqua Valley has reason to be excited about the future.
Now, let me tell you what the people in this meeting did for me.
First, very few people know about my circumstances yet. It's just too early.
But everyone who got the news as I was shaking their hand said the same thing: "Congratulations!"
When I chuckled and made a face, they added "You will never regret this decision."
I wished my wife was there to hear that!
Their support was amazing. I talked marketing with at least ten people. I handed my number out and collected business cards and rubbed elbows with people I had heard of, but never met. Really positive, ambitious, energetic people who do stuff.
I loved it.
Special thanks to Greg Henderson for the ride to Yoncalla and the guidance in these bumpy first days on my own wings.
Thank you to Kemberly Todd at the Umpqua Business Center in Roseburg. Five minutes with her yesterday morning set the tone for the entire day and added to my optimism.
Also, from time to time, I am going to be asking for you to help my clients. I am working with a family owned operation in Sutherlin called 'Ridin' Dirty ATV Rentals'. Michelle and Shane are a hard working couple with five kids, a crazy busy house and a dream. They rent ATVs to people for trips to the coast or the mountains. Like me, they have just launched their business. Here are the links to their facebook and twitter accounts. They are so new, we haven't gotten their website going just yet. Please like their page and follow their tweets and support them any way you can.