Keep it Green 4 U
“Mercy Corps Northwest gave me something to look forward to, and something to strive towards.”
From incarceration to business owner, master gardener and mentor, Tom Carlson has turned over a new leaf in life thanks to his business, Keep It Green 4 U. While serving time, Tom decided to start his own business after his release. He began crafting a business plan, obtained his Master Gardener credentials and gained experience as lead gardener for Columbia River Correctional Institution.
Upon his release, his vision of entrepreneurship brought him to Mercy Corps Northwest (MCNW) for support in launching his business. He enrolled in the IDA matched-savings business grant program and began saving to invest in his business. With help from family and friends, along with his own savings, Tom purchased a truck and the necessary equipment to start his landscaping company. Despite challenges and tough competition, Tom built a solid customer base as the business gained momentum, handing out thousands of flyers to advertise his services. Through all the ups and downs of the initial startup phase, MCNW supported Tom with the capital and knowledge he needed to succeed. “MCNW was a big encouragement to keep going. MCNW gave me something to look forward to, and something to strive towards. Not just for the money, but I knew there were people to help me gain the knowledge I needed to run my own business.”
After completing the MCNW small business classes and hitting his savings goal, Tom was ready to invest his grant funds in assets for his business. He was able to purchase lawn mowers, leaf blowers, trimmers and backpack sprayers that are instrumental to his work. Tom now expects to hire staff and add a new truck and trailer as the business continues to grow, returning to MCNW for the education and support he needs to reach his goals.
Tom’s passion for his work is evident in his enthusiasm and dedication to the community. Through his business, he gives back by mentoring others who have experienced incarceration and reentry. “I’ve made a commitment to be of service to others now.”
*The MCNW IDA Program is funded by the Oregon IDA State Tax Credit as well as funds through Assets For Independence.