Julie Arenz will advocate for small business as city’s small business project manager

Arenz said her new position lies within Vancouver’s newly created Economic Prosperity and Housing Department

In August of 2022, Julie Arenz began her role as the city of Vancouver’s small business project manager. Previously employed by iQ Credit Union as the assistant vice president of business services, Arenz said she is excited to work for the city of Vancouver as the “feet-on-ground” liaison between small and underserved businesses and the challenge of navigating city government.

“I take pride in bring a small business navigator, connector, resource and solution-seeker,” Arenz said. “Being raised in an entrepreneur’s home, I saw from an early age the business hiccups, hurdles and hardships that many entrepreneurs face. Most business owners are just trying to do the best they can with too few hours in a day, and since the pandemic, with minimal resources, employees and supplies. This early exposure to my father’s business ventures created a deep affection for, and a desire to help, small business owners leading me to a career in business owner assistance.”

Arenz’s small business project manager position lies within the city’s newly created Economic Prosperity and Housing Department (EP&H), which includes the city’s economic development functions, parking services and housing programs. The EP&H Department is led by director Patrick Quinton.

“Today, my work centers around identifying, creating and amplifying programs and initiatives that support small businesses citywide, with a specific focus on assisting those that are underserved or were impacted by COVID-19,” Arenz said. “For example, we are partnering with the library and the Small Business Consortium to offer our third Small Business Resource Fair on May 11 at the downtown library from 3 to 6 p.m. – in partnership with Fort Vancouver Regional Library.”

Arenz said this free public event will offer business resources and agency assistance for startups and growing businesses and will help business owners navigate through technical assistance programs, free resources and education. As the month of May approaches, Arenz said Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle will continue, for the 10th year, to proclaim the month of May as “Small Business Month” in Vancouver. For the entire month, the city will showcase local small business stories, shares ways that the community can support small businesses and will promote opportunities for entrepreneurs, startups and existing small business owners to grow and thrive.

Currently, Arenz said that small businesses in the area are challenged by access to capital, having limited resources and limited time to identify or pursue business and technical resources. As part of her role with the city, Arenz works as a solution-seeking connector, shopping for federal, local and state grants each week, adding them to the City’s Business & Worker Assistance public webpage. Frequently, she said their small business provider partners will offer grants or funding specials, which Arenz will also include on the webpage, saving business owners time and research, giving small businesses a go-to page to find capital assistance or funding opportunities.

Arenz also said that the city of Vancouver has some great services that are tailor-made for small or growing businesses, and she is committed to increasing business owner exposure to those programs. For example, she said that most small business owners are not aware that they can bid on smaller jobs, projects or contracts with the city. Doing business with the city, using the city’s Procurement Program, can help small businesses grow their project pipeline, adding to their bottom line.

“Hiring local recirculates money spent here two-four times more than money spent with a non-local company,” Arenz said. “Hiring local is not only smart and economical, more importantly, it’s the right thing to do, and helps to ensure that equity is embedded in city infrastructure projects.”

Overall, Arenz expressed that she is excited about her newly created position with the city and the work that can be done to assist small businesses in Vancouver.

“Advocating for small business is my superpower and I am excited that the city invested in this position, recognizing the importance and value of our small business community,” she said.

Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.



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