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WorkSource Paves Way for Veterans to Open Business
Veterans Workforce Investment Program provides funding
Margot Bushong
Margot Bushong
If home improvement is more to you than a TV sitcom in reruns, adding color to concrete structures might be the dramatic change your home or business needs. And if you live in Central Oregon, there's a brand new business that specializes in helping you "say goodbye to ugly concrete."
That's the catchy tagline of Concrete Artistry, a veteran-owned contracting business that got some crucial help from WorkSource Oregon.
The business was just an interesting idea when veterans Margot Bushong and Eddie Thomas first started investigating what it would take to open a decorative concrete business. Margot is currently the Customer Service Manager at Safeway, and Eddie is her fiancé. The couple hopes to get married in June.
"Eddie was working for a company here in town that did a similar product. We really looked long and hard to find something that we liked and that was something that was very green," Margot said.
His first stop in researching his business options was the WorkSource Center in Bend where he met Veteran Representative Roy Morris. Roy referred him a veteran's advocate at the local Small Business Administration. There, Eddie got some expert guidance in drawing up a solid business plan.

 Concrete Artistry Business Card
"I typed it up, and then we went to see a gentleman that deals with business plans at the community college in Redmond. That helped us put together a good business plan that we could show to somebody," Margot explained.
Later, after some prodding from veteran Eddie who had spent 12 years in the U.S. Navy, Margot checked with Roy on her own eligibility for veteran assistance through WorkSource and found that her time in the Navy also qualified her for their services. That included some much-needed help in getting their Construction Contractors Board Licenses.

 Roy Morris and Margot Bushong at Bend WorkSource Center
"When I found out I was eligible, we came back down to WorkSource and spoke with Roy and found out that they could put us into a class that was coming up real soon at the college. They paid for our course and the book that went with the course. That got us all prepped and ready, with highlighting important parts of the book. And that was just awesome for getting us ready for our test," said Margot. "We both passed, of course."
Once they had their licenses, Eddie and Margot checked back in with Roy and were pleased to find that the Veterans Workforce Investment Program grant still had funds available to help them purchase tools needed to start their Concrete Artistry business.
Margot said, "We really didn’t have the start-up costs for tools and things like that. It was just a real major help for us to have that. They helped pay about $1600 toward our tools for our business, which was just absolutely awesome."
"Everybody was so helpful, understanding. Ask for something and they send you in the right direction. I couldn’t ask for a better resource than what we had. It was just great. It gave us the insight to what we needed to know."
Margot also thought that bringing workforce resources together in one convenient center was a good idea.
"They’ve got everything wrapped up in one nice little tight place here these days, compared to what it used to be. Everything used to be spread out all over. There’s been times I’ve needed to do more than one thing and it’s nice to have everything in one spot, I think. Especially in Bend with not real good transportation systems for people who don’t have good transportation."
Margot and Eddie have already successfully completed two major jobs and were able to get the bid on another one they'll start when the weather cooperates.
"We’re hoping by next summer that we’ll have enough work going to where we can both be doing it full time. So I can have just one job," Margot said. "We’re hoping down the road if we get to the point where we need people, we told Roy that we would come back to the vet reps to find out if there are veterans we can pull in as employees and give back that way."
Find your nearest WorkSource Center here or find a veteran representative here.