GOLD HILL, ORE. — Dominic Hernandez remembers the long hours and hard work that went into the early days of his salsa company.

“2 o’clock in the morning, getting up and cooking. Oh and my lovely other half, she put up with me, you know, that smell, and the kids, it would burn their eyes,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez said he then would go door to door selling it. Then less than two years into his business, he got his break. The owner of Miguel’s Restaurants decided to invest and now mild, original and hot can be found on store shelves.

Hernandez hasn’t always been involved in the food industry. After 8 years of working in the medical field, he found himself unemployed. His friends encouraged him to think about marketing the salsa that had always been a hit at pot lucks. Hernandez reached out to the small business development center and found out about the Self-Employment Assistance program.

“Giving somebody the opportunity to start their own business, as opposed to looking for jobs that may not be there, may never be there, is a good thing,” said smal business development center director Jack Vitacco.

Now the program is receiving a boost thanks to a federal grant of more than $300,000. The money doesn’t go to the businesses themselves, but instead to programs that can help businesses get up and running.

“Instead of going out and looking for a job everyday and trying to find a job, they spend their time and their energy and their resources on actually developing their own business,” said Vitacco.

Hernandez went from being unemployed to selling a business and working full time. He said the resources are out there for those looking to make a jump.

“They got programs there and people are there to help from beginning to end,” said Hernandez.

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