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RAIN recently blew into Albany, and it’s about time.

In this case, RAIN refers to the Oregon Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network, a somewhat ungainly title (with, granted, a nifty acronym) for a four-county effort that combines government, academia and business communities in Linn, Benton, Lane and Lincoln counties to encourage entrepreneurial efforts.

The original idea for RAIN was to bring university research to the state level, and so the nonprofit organization initially focused on university towns such as Corvallis and Eugene. While we supported the idea four years ago, when it was formed, we worried about whether Linn County would tend to be overshadowed by those university towns.

But recent developments in Linn County show that RAIN finally is broadening its focus.

You might recall that, late last year, the Linn County commissioners approved a $34,000 investment over the next two years in RAIN. Part of the commissioners’ rationale for making that investment was their sense that Linn County would prove to be a hospitable place for entrepreneurs looking for places to put their growing businesses. (And there’s obviously some truth there; consider, for example, the decision by McCool Millworks to move from Lane County to a new location near Sweet Home.)

At the time, we thought that the commissioners’ investment in RAIN was smart — but we encouraged the commissioners to be sure to keep tabs on the organization to see how the investment was paying off.

At about the same time, RAIN officials were meeting with city officials and Chamber of Commerce members to discuss how best to introduce the program here. That resulted in a RAIN-sponsored event, “Start Up Meet Up,” which was held last week at the Brick and Mortar Café in downtown Albany. The meeting, by all accounts, was a success, attracting a dozen entrepreneurs, who made contacts and got advice about how to grow their fledgling businesses. (Two more RAIN meetings are scheduled for Albany in the next few weeks, on April 5 and May 5; go to the website www.oregonrain.org for details.)

Not every business launched by these entrepreneurs will be successful, of course: The cold economics of the business world dictate that most new businesses will fail. But some of them will take root and thrive — and those businesses could bring new, high-paying jobs to the region. Albany and Linn County have compelling cases to make to those entrepreneurs. So this recent storm of RAIN activity is a welcome development indeed for our economic climate. (mm)

Revamped website

set to debut

Here’s a reminder that, barring any last-second glitches, the Democrat-Herald’s website (democratherald.com) will have a new look sometime this morning.

The revamped website will feature technology that allows it to automatically adjust to fit the size of whatever device you’re using — so, in other words, the site that you view on your mobile phone will be exactly the same as the site that you view on your desktop computer. As more and more readers access our site through their mobile devices, that’s an important consideration for us. (It’s not unusual for more than half our traffic to come from mobile devices at any given time.)

The new site also places a heavier emphasis on visuals — an increasingly important part of the online experience — and features what we believe is a cleaner design. (Our current design, while functional, is getting a little long in the tooth.)

We invite you to explore the new redesigned website. Let us know what you think. (mm)

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