SHEDG’s Owen announces her departure to launch new business

Scott Swanson

Of The New Era

After five years as economic development director for the Sweet Home Economic Development Group (SHEDG), Karen Owen has decided to start her own business elsewhere.

Owen, 57, said she submitted her resignation April 15, but her last day will be May 31.

She plans to open a Navis Pack and Ship Center, possibly in Tangent Business Park. She and her husband John, a Realtor, live in Albany.

“I’ve been looking at franchises since last fall, because I decided I wanted to start my own business,” she said.

Before she leaves, though, she has put together a seminar on starting a franchise business, to be held this Saturday, May 13, at the Linn-Benton Community College Sweet Home Center.

“I’ve learned a lot about franchises,” she said. “I see their value more than I did before.”

Her own business, she said, will “pick up where UPS leaves off.” It will specialize in packing and shipping large, awkward items, such as keepsakes and furniture distributed when estates are dissolved.

SHEDG Vice President Kevin Strong said the group’s board will meet May 17 and will decide what direction it would take.

“Karen has contributed a lot to Sweet Home, especially handling behind-the-scenes work,” Strong said. “She will be missed. She’s done an excellent job and we wish her well.”

Owen came to Sweet Home on June 1, 2001, from Union County, where she worked in economic development.

She and her husband wanted to move to the Willamette Valley and the SHEDG position “happened to be a job doing exactly what I do,” she said.

She said her role at SHEDG and in Sweet Home has primarily been as a groundbreaker.

“When I started this job, no one had been here before in this position,” she said. “I developed the job.”

She said she has assisted “numerous” business start-ups in Sweet Home and said she is leaving “a community of positive and energetic people who look forward to a progressive future.”

She said the community needs to retain its essentials – the “great small-town feel,” volunteers and positive personal interactions – while making changes necessary to take the city in a “positive” direction.

“I’ve seen a lot of attitude change in the last five years,” she said. “People have a greater positive outlook than they did before. I don’t think they were ever negative, but there’s less reluctance to embark into the future. They’re raring to go and I think they’ve got a great future ahead of them.”

She said she will miss the small-town atmosphere in Sweet Home.

“I’ve made a lot of friends in the community,” she said. “I’ve loved the interaction I’ve had here. I’m going to miss a lot of people, the opportunity to drop by to see them and ask their opinions.”