The 10-member board overseeing RAIN, the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network, in the south Willamette Valley pulls expertise from private industry, as well as from local government and universities. The majority of votes on the board will be held by the people with business experience.

The so-called "ex-officio" directors, chosen because of their positions, include Corvallis Mayor Julie Manning; Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy; Rick Spinrad, Oregon State University vice president of research; and Kimberly Andrews Espy, University of Oregon vice president of research and innovation.

Espy recently left the UO to become senior vice president for research at the University of Arizona. A replacement will be named later, said Jim Coonan, who heads RAIN in Lane, Linn and Benton counties.

Sean Stevens, Business Oregon's business development officer for the Eugene area, is the fifth ex-officio director. He is the board's only nonvoting member.

Manning and Spinrad, the board members from Corvallis, nominated two directors with business experience: Karla Chambers, who owns Stahlbush Island Farms in Corvallis with her husband, Bill -- eldest son of the late Carolyn Chambers of Eugene: and Dan Whitaker, a consultant and "serial entrepreneur" who is currently associate director of new business creation and corporate development in OSU's Office for Commercialization and Corporate Development.

Piercy and Espy also nominated two private sector directors: Dana Siebert, the president and chief operating officer of Chambers Communications in Eugene, and Sabrina Parsons, the CEO of Palo Alto Software in Eugene.

They also nominated the fifth private sector director, which the Eugene and Corvallis contingents will take turns selecting, Piercy said.

He is Paul Anthony, CEO of Rumblefish, a Portland company that licenses music for film and video, including video that is streamed on the Internet. Anthony co-founded Rumblefish in his University of Oregon dorm in 1996.

Parsons said she was interested in RAIN from the moment she heard about it.

"Then when it actually got funding, I knew I wanted to be involved," she said.

"I feel like Eugene and Lane County and the Corvallis area are so ripe to attract startups," Parsons said.

"Between the two universities and the cost of living and the lifestyle you can lead in Oregon, people should be flocking here to start businesses, and they're not.

"So what that takes is a concerted effort to bring things together, and say, 'Let's not have 25 different organizations that offer entrepreneurial support. Let's have one place and triage where they'll be sent to the right place,'?" Parsons said.

"They might be sent to the Small Business Development Center, or SCORE, or the accelerator.

"It should be a hub where anyone interested in (the local area) can come and understand what does it take to start a business in Lane or Benton counties?" she said.

Parsons added that she thinks RAIN has "a great chance of success in creating a startup environment and creating a place where people want to come and start companies."

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