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SBDC

Kevin Leahy

Kevin Leahy

Director

Jessica Newhall

Jessica Newhall

Associate Director

Jason Edwards

Jason Edwards

Program Coordinator

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Meyer Freeman

Lead Business Adviser

JP Hermenegildo Ochoa

Hermenegildo Ochoa

Adviser

Spanish Advising

Rocio Lizarraga Simmons

Rocio Lizarraga Simmons

Adviser

Spanish Advising

Eric Stromquist

Eric Stromquist

Adviser

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Ian Reid

SBM Program Manager

Kevin Leahy

Director

How do your colleagues describe you?
“Kevin is a very positive person, has high energy and is a tireless advocate for the success of SBDC clients and the business community.”
Why do you do what you do?
“I have had the experience of running a very large business in a corporate environment and also owning my own small business for several years, and feel that the combination of large and small business experience has allowed me to be uniquely qualified to assist businesses of all sizes and complexities.”
Bio:

Kevin has extensive experience in retail, having served 18 years as a senior executive at a national chain with more than 75 stores, as a retail store owner and partner in a national franchise.

Kevin is the Director of the CCC SBDC and has served as Executive Director of the Clatsop County Economic Development Organization (CEDR), a one-stop for local businesses. He also sits on the Cabinet of CCC, representing the education and workforce needs of the business community.

Kevin Leahy

Jessica Newhall

Associate Director

How do your colleagues describe you?
My colleagues describe me as “knowledgeable, personable and deeply committed to advancing entrepreneurial success in Clatsop County”
Why do you do what you do?
Entrepreneurs are the engine of our economy particularly here in our rural community.
Bio:
Jessica has more than twenty years of business experience that, when combined with her BS in Business Administration from the University of Colorado, make her uniquely suited to supporting the challenges small business owners encounter every day. Her coaching approach is drawn from experience in overseeing the strategic, financial and day-to-day business operations of a small business. She is dedicated to helping clients overcome barriers and devise solutions for long-term success. She is also an active community leader and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Seaside Chamber of Commerce and the Assistance League of the Columbia Pacific.
Jessica Newhall

Jason Edwards

Program Coordinator

How do your colleagues describe you?
My colleagues describe me as someone who is, “intelligent, resourceful and compassionate.” As an experienced educator, entrepreneur, and active community member, I take much pride in helping to empower people of our local community.
Why do you do what you do?
The aspect of networking with community partners and connecting people to available resources is a very rewarding enterprise for me personally. I am a firm believer of both the mission of education as well as the power of free enterprise to change peoples’ lives. This position allows me the opportunity to work directly with the community and to help create a prosperous local economy that is accessible to all members.
Bio:
Jason offers a unique blend of experience in the sectors of public education and private business ownership. After graduating from Southern Oregon University with a BA in International Studies and a MA in Teaching, Jason taught high school Social Studies and Spanish for many years. His years of teaching and coaching are highlighted by the attainment of the VFW Teacher of the Year award in 2019-20, receiving the OACA Assistant Coach of the Year award in 2021 for coaching football and his involvement in the CommuniCare program where his students were able to fundraise and make a significant impact to the efforts of local non-profit organizations in Clatsop County. Jason is also experienced in local and international real estate investment, e-commerce, and has created and developed 8 different business concepts in two different countries. Jason’s experience as a teacher and a business leader help to deliver high quality programming and assistance for both employers and members of the workforce alike.
Jason Edwards

Meyer Freeman

Lead Business Adviser

How do your colleagues describe you?
Meyer has shown an incredible capacity for compassion, the ability to help address the challenges many of our business owners face, and wonderful listening skills. He is also a great colleague, bringing a spirit of generosity and a willingness to pitch in where needed and lead efforts to ensure that our team has access to all available information and resources.
Why do you do what you do?

As a Clatsop SBDC small business adviser, I have counseled business owners through one of the most challenging business environments seen in recent memory. I am especially proud of our work to create an entirely new entrepreneurial educational curriculum and have since led our Start-up Boot Camp course, which ushers entrepreneurs through the business planning process.

The opportunity to work closely with Clatsop County small business owners is incredibly rewarding and has allowed me to fully reengage with the community where I grew up. I have a deep-rooted passion for counseling and supporting those who are working to build successful businesses—and by extension build successful and fulfilling lives.

Bio:
Meyer Freeman took on the role of Lead Business Adviser in March 2023 after three years as a part-time SBDC adviser, during which time he specialized in supporting those working to start their small businesses. Originally from Knappa, Meyer returned to Clatsop County after a 20-year career in Portland with nonprofit Sport Oregon. He has advised more than 200 local entrepreneurs and business owners, and recently launched his own business, Playful Pickleball, which offers pickleball lessons and coaching on the North Coast. Meyer also serves on the advisory board of Playworks Pacific Northwest and the board of directors of Knappa Kids Athletics.
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Hermenegildo Ochoa

Adviser

How do your colleagues describe you?
Hermes knows what clients are going through. He has a compassionate style that makes it easy for clients and colleagues to work with him.
Why do you do what you do?
Our community grows stronger when everyone has opportunities. The opportunities are there, we just need to connect people to them, and that’s where I can help.
Bio:

Hermenegildo Ochoa has an extensive background in the Business Services industry in Mexico. He spent many years as the owner of an insurance agency and banking and finance, specializing in Capital Access and Financial Reports. He has an extensive background in business, including teaching financial administration and human resources at Tecnologico de Tijuana and Centro de Estudios Cristobal.

Ochoa recently owned his own retail food business serving Clatsop and Pacific (Washington state) counties, giving him a perspective on the importance and need to serve this fast growing demographic. He has a passion for serving the Latino business community, and continues to expand the reach of the Center by his outreach, connections and communication, relying on a customer service model involving flexible scheduling to meet the needs of the client.

JP Hermenegildo Ochoa

Rocio Lizarraga Simmons

Adviser

How do your colleagues describe you?
My colleagues describe me as a passionate Latina who is genuine, outdoorsy, and really cares about the community she lives in.
Why do you do what you do?
I enjoy sharing knowledge and experience with others and have engaged in teaching opportunities all my life. I am excited to help people with how to start, run, or improve their business because that’s what I did for almost 20 years. My husband and I owned and operated Haystack Lodgings for almost 20 years in Cannon Beach and Seaside.
Bio:
Rocío moved to Portland, Oregon in 1993 after graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Universidad del Noroeste in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. She has worked as a translator and interpreter for the last 25 years. Rocío and her husband developed a property management business that grew to own and manage 4 hotels in Cannon Beach and Seaside. Rocío gained her business experience on the job doing everything from front desk, customer service, managing staff, purchasing supplies, developing breakfast menus, etc. In addition to this, Rocío volunteered her time with Consejo Hispano from 2004 to 2020 as a board member and as a volunteer for various programs.
Rocio Lizarraga Simmons

Eric Stromquist

Adviser

How do your colleagues describe you?
My colleagues describe me as “ethical, practical, even-tempered, and kind”, and most often “a good listener” and “a patient teacher.”
Why do you do what you do?
Taking paths less traveled has led me to some interesting places and pursuits, but of all the things I’ve done, teaching has been my favorite. Owning a small business is more complicated and difficult than people imagine and being able to draw on my academic knowledge and real-life experience to help people be successful is both satisfying and fun.
Bio:

Eric spent over 40 years around the Portland restaurant scene, starting as a server with McCormick & Schmick’s while completing his BS degree at PSU, then becoming director of their retail products division. He co-founded Hot Lips Pizza in 1985, also working as a consultant and instructor at Portland’s SBDC. He joined Western Culinary Institute in 1996 as an instructor, eventually becoming VP of Academic Affairs before co-founding Oregon Culinary Institute in 2006 where he served as President until 2015.

In 2019, after a lifetime in Portland, Eric moved with his wife to Astoria where he is looking forward to engaging with his adopted North Coast community to help small businesses be successful.

Eric Stromquist

Ian Reid

Adviser

How do your colleagues describe you?
Curious. Great listener. Loves strategic thinking. Likes handy work. Ian wants to understand how people and things work. He likes to help others and understand how they feel.
Why do you do what you do?
Because I can! I think everyone’s role matters. However big or small we think ourselves. I also love systems. They are omnipresent and impact everyone all the time, which leads me to the butterfly effect. Flap your wings, more things happen than you could ever imagine. Flap them again, who knows what goodness it will bring!
Bio:

Ian has held positions both as an intrapreneur and entrepreneur in various industries. For over a decade, he worked closely with small, medium and larger enterprises both in economic development counseling and guiding entrepreneurs to launch, grow, and transfer their business, and as co-founder of a business processes consulting firm that went from two to twenty-six employees. He completed a master’s degree in user research and experience to better understand the dynamics of human needs, that he believes ultimately fuels business and the economy.

Filled with curiosity and endless ideas, he launched multiple web businesses, managed teams, and helped in aligning vision and everyday actions for many organizations.

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