Ruth Painter

New Interim Director takes the helm of Southwestern’s Small Business Development Center

Anne Matthews News

It all started with a love for Greek food. That’s how Ruthie Painter found her way into the restaurant world and a lifelong career as a business owner, entrepreneur, and mentor. Now she’s bringing that expertise to Southwestern’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as the new director.

When Ruthie Painter opened The Greek Isle, she was one of the original tenants of the 5th Street Public Market in Eugene. All she had were some great recipes and a burning desire to see the business succeed. And it did! The Greek Isle became one of the most popular restaurants in the market’s food court. 

After selling the restaurant, and a brief move to Hawaii, Painter and her husband landed in Ashland where she quickly took up with Southern Oregon University (SOU) and became an advisor for the SBDC associated with SOU. While there she developed course work, advised small business owners, and facilitated “Peer to Peer” mentor groups. She did this for over 13 years in the Ashland/Medford area, working with Rogue Community College, as well. 

Eight years ago, they moved to Bandon and she began her association with Southwestern’s SBDC and Arlene Soto, the director at the time. For the last three years Painter has been commuting to Southwestern’s campus in Brookings to work with business owners in Curry county. “I worked with some incredible clients in Curry,” says Painter. One sprang to mind because it challenged her normal way of working with people. “This particular client just needed me to work in a different way than what I was used to. I had to adapt, change, and keep convincing him along the way that he could do this.” The result was one of the most innovative business plans she’d ever helped develop.

Painter’s background in start-up, expansion, and leasing practices has served her clients well. “I’m good at systems. I can analyze an existing system, break it down, and rebuilt it so it’s better. I love people, I love collaboration, and I love building collaborative teams!” 

Interested in tapping into this great resource called Ruthie Painter? Make an appointment to meet with her (face-to-face or over Zoom) or join the Small Business Management course now in progress. Call Ruthie Painter at 541-840-4201 or email her at [email protected].