A four-hour workshop presented by the Oregon State University Austin Family Business Program was held Monday, March 10, at the Wilderness Inn conference room in Enterprise. The purpose of the workshop was to prepare family business owners for the pitfalls that may be ahead if the family wishes to keep the business under family ownership.

Agriculture and retail businesses were represented among the 11 people who availed themselves of the workshop sponsored by the OSU Extension Service in Enterprise.

Teaching the workshop were Mark Green from the OSU school of business and Clinton Bentz from the family owned CPA firm of Boldt, Carlisle & Smith of Stayton. Bentz was also the National Tree Farmer of the Year in 2002.

Monday's workshop focused on family succession of a business and on entrepreneurship.

Green said that 70 percent of family-owned businesses fail to make the transition to the second generation and, of that remaining 30 percent, another half fail to survive to the third generation. Figures in other countries are much higher. Green mentioned a family-owned business in Italy which has been in the same family since 1369.

Green said that communication within the family and within the business is a key to success.

"There is basically no discussion in the family on how to make a successful succession happen," he said. How to open those lines of communication was a major component of the workshop.

The Austin Family Business Program is the second oldest family business support program in the United States. It has been serving family businesses in Oregon since 1985.

Green said that the Austin Family Program holds conferences and workshops for up to 5,000 people annually.

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