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Southern Oregon University



Jack Vitacco

Jack Vitacco, Director

Jack has worked directly with small business owners his entire professional career. As an account representative for 3M Corp. for 20 years, and as an independent manufacturers' representative for 12 years, Jack assisted wholesale distribution businesses to increase market share, develop sales personnel, implement effective product knowledge and presentation skills, and management of profit. Areas of expertise include business start-up, marketing, sales, distribution, and strategic planning. Jack earned a Master in Management degree from Southern Oregon University.


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Kim Thompson, Office Manager & Client Services Manager

Kim joined the SOU SBDC team in March 2015. She comes to us with 25 years of experience of technical writing and editing in the environmental engineering industry. Kim has taught writing and end-user software classes. She has presented publicly to large groups, including U.S. EPA regulators and organized/facilitated public meetings associated with environmental cleanup projects. Kim has also reviewed and coached presentations and presenters. In April 2014, Kim became a small business owner herself, remotely running a small country store, ranch, and horseback riding service in south central Oregon. At SOU SBDC, she supports our clients and business advisors and manages the scheduling, planning, and execution of our programs and events, including the Business Resource Fair in the fall.


Ruthie Painter 

Ruthie Painter, Business Advisor

Ruthie Painter has been an entrepreneur since 1974 and a resident of the Rogue Valley since 1986.  Painter opened two restaurants in the Fifth St. Public Market in Eugene, OR and was co-owner of a gourmet fast food Deli in the Rogue Valley Mall, Medford, OR for 11 years.  Experience in business strategy includes: lease negotiations, design, construction, interviewing, hiring, training, collaborative team management, and the sale of businesses for profit.  She has developed loan packages and received SBA funding.  Other business endeavors include a literary marketing firm, and the development of a career testing program and retraining program for a Vocational Rehabilitation Firm.  Painter is a certified Profit Mastery Facilitator for Business Resources Services, Inc. based in Seattle, WA, and specializes in strategies to minimize risk and maximize success.


Stephanie Hoffman, Business Advisor & Smart Start Your Business Instructor

Stephanie designed management and employee training programs in the Bay Area for various industries, including high-tech, financial, education, recreation, health, utilities, economic development, and communications.  After moving to northern California, she began working for the Northeastern SBDC and ran their satellite office in Yreka.  Stephanie helps clients create low-cost strategic marketing plans and provides general business planning services.  She also reviews client's websites, Facebook pages, blogs, brochures, business cards, and flyers.  Stephanie holds a master's degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from San Jose University.



Russ Kennedy

Russ Kennedy, Business Advisor

Russ was Chief Financial Officer at various companies in Silicon Valley, including computer manufacture, pharmaceutical, ophthalamic products, and logistics in offshore oil. He established start-up administrative and financial operations in 19 foreign countries and took the financial lead in approximately 50 mergers and acquisitions. He was a CPA with an international audit firm for 12 years.  Russ lived in Venezuela for 7 years. He has extensive experience in financial planning, business buy-outs, high tech start-up companies, business planning, and international finance activities.


Fred Arnett, Business Advisor

Fred has over 45 years experience in all facets of manufacturing management and administration, including development of personnel, establishing policies and procedures, budgeting, and establishing goals, and objectives.  Fred had direct oversight of plant operations, quality assurance, sales and marketing, finance, management information systems, HR, risk management, and other indirect support functions. He managed facility expansions, including interface with governmental regulatory agencies, and contractors.  Negotiated contracts with major customers, distributors, and defense contract agencies.  Represented companies in labor disputes, legal proceedings, and public relations issues. Fred is a career professional at general management, specific departmental management, and technical, legal, and accounting disciplines with outside counsels.



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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the SBA.