SWEET HOME — George Medellin has a head for business and a heart for God.
Monday through Friday, Medellin, 49, offers advice to prospective or new business owners as a small business adviser with Linn-Benton Community College based at the Sweet Home Center.
His advice is based on a dozen years of experience as the former owner of a property maintenance company in the Seattle area.
But on weekends — or when others need spiritual guidance — Medellin can be found pastoring Mossy Rock Fellowship in Lebanon.
He doesn’t see a conflict between promoting business and the potential accumulation of wealth and being a pastor. He preaches the concept of prosperity with a purpose, where profits can be used to do good things throughout communities.
Medellin said, for example, a local business owner could donate $500,000 to assist local schools, or to fix potholes on city streets.
The Southern California native has lived in Sweet Home for about three years, but he has had family ties here since the 1990s. His wife, Wendy (James), grew up in Sweet Home.
“We’ve been married 22 years and we have wanted to move here or at least have property here for years,” Medellin said. “We love the beauty of this area.”
They met while working at a Christian Renewal Center in Stayton.
“It’s important people have a belief center, because without it, they can plunge into bad habits such as alcoholism or drugs that lead to things like divorce,” Medellin said.
Medellin said that focused spiritual belief will also help the community overcome its struggles, “the negative stuff we hear about Sweet Home.”
Medellin said Christian values can work for the good of not only businesses, but entire communities as well.
He said that’s why the “One Sweet Home” project was born. Members of numerous churches work together to sponsor community events such as the National Day of Prayer or to provide a cold weather shelter for the homeless.
“There are 30 churches in Sweet Home,” Medellin said. “That means there is so much opportunity for people of faith to come together to create change."
Part of that change has been rebuilding the Sweet Home Chamber of Commerce.
Recently, former chamber manager Katrina Crabtree admitted in Linn County Circuit Court that she used the organization’s credit cards to make purchases at local liquor stores and a hair salon.
She pleaded guilty to three counts of fraudulent use of a credit card and was sentenced to one year of probation, 10 days community service and reimburse the chamber $2,500.
But perhaps the most damage was that chamber business files (both computerized data and paper copies) were missing, so directors led by former president Bill Matthews had to rebuild that information over a year’s time.
The organization was also $100,000 in debt and was forced to sell its building to pay off creditors.
Medellin is trying to rebuild community trust in the chamber and said the recent annual awards banquet with a Mardi Gras theme was a big hit.
“I was the interim chamber president for a year and took over in January,” Medellin said.
An immediate action was using grant money from Easter Seals to rebuild the chamber staff, including new hires McKenzie Thomas, Mike McCoy, Savannah Young and Ann Anderson.
“My goal is to fulfill our mission of supporting local businesses and being the hub of the community,” Medellin said. “We would love to see Sweet Home become an economic powerhouse.”
Medellin said another goal is for Sweet Home to partner and work more closely with Lebanon and Brownsville.
“We will just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other,” Medellin said. “We have to seize opportunities when we see them.”
Medellin said the Sweet Home chamber has been known for putting on the community awards program in March, the Sportsman’s Holiday celebration in July and Christmas events in December.
“Now, we want to fill in those gaps with community events,” Medellin said. “We are in the process of setting our goals right now.”
And if folks want to talk about religion while discussing those changes, Medellin said he’s OK with that too.