Corvallis Mayor Julie Manning and Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy – the co-conveners of the Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network (RAIN) – announced today the hiring of Jim Coonan, a successful entrepreneur and former CEO and investor, to lead the RAIN program. Coonan will begin his involvement with RAIN as a consultant who will oversee the incorporation of RAIN as a 501(c)(3) coordinating entity and finalize the work plans and metrics to measure the success of the program. Coonan started his work with RAIN Jan. 13 and will maintain offices in both Eugene and Corvallis.
“I am very excited to join the regional collaboration to advance innovation and entrepreneurship,” Coonan said. “I think this is a great opportunity to harness the resources of higher education and the broader business community to support the region in a dynamic fashion.” Coonan’s excitement is reflected by Corvallis’ Mayor Manning, who stated, "We are delighted to have Jim join the RAIN initiative. He brings a depth of expertise and connections in this area, and he will be able to hit the ground running in his new role." Coonan’s track record for success is also recognized by Eugene’s Mayor Piercy, who commented, "Jim Coonan is a great fit for the RAIN project. With his entrepreneurial background, he has proven leadership ability to attract talent, energize our growing tech startups and deliver results. We look forward to working with him.”
Previously, Coonan served as Venture Catalyst Manager at Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO). He helped advance the entrepreneurial ecosystem in that region through efforts that included managing the Bend Venture Conference and developing regional entrepreneurial assets. He has been deeply involved with Oregon's angel and venture community, having previously served as chair of the Oregon Entrepreneur’s Network (OEN), the largest entrepreneurship assistance organization in Oregon and PAN (Portland Angel Network). Other efforts have included a leading role in development of the Oregon Angel Fund, Portland Seed Fund, FoundersPad Accelerator, Cascade Angels, OEN’s Oregon Initiative, OEN’s foundation, Oregon’s signature research centers, strategic partnership with Pacific Northwest National Labs (PNNL) and the Oregon University System and Oregon Inc.
As a small business leader, Coonan is currently Chair of Peak Audio Group, and he is the former chairman and largest shareholder of Kentrox, LLC, and Hotel Software Systems, Ltd. He also served as CEO and chairman of Portland’s OECO Corporation. Coonan serves as an advisor to several local funds including Mount Hood Equity Partners and Northwest Technology Ventures. Previously, Coonan served in executive marketing positions for Van de Kamp’s Frozen Foods, The Pillsbury Company and General Mills Inc.
In 2012, Coonan was named to the Oregon Growth Board, which was the result of the Oregon Investment Act passed in the 2012 legislative session. The Oregon Growth Board was created as a successor to the Oregon Growth Account to address access to capital issues in the state and invest/manage allocated state funds. Coonan graduated from Stanford University and holds his MBA from Northwestern University.
The Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network (RAIN) is a consortium of government, higher education and the business community created to advance the formation and growth of tech-based startups in the South Willamette Valley. RAIN brings together business, community members, government and higher education in a concerted effort to accelerate the formation, growth and retention of technology businesses and regional jobs by linking the accelerator programs at the University of Oregon and Oregon State University with regional innovation resources.