By Representative David Gomberg, House District 10
Hello Neighbors and Friends,
Oregonians are starting new small businesses. Especially in the wake of the pandemic, more of us are staying home, caring for our kids, and using our entrepreneurial creativity to build something of our own.
Managing our own business for over 35 years, Susan and I found consistently that the main challenges were where to locate, how to find employees, and where to get the money needed to cover start-up costs, expand, or survive during the lean months. Most small firms rely on savings, relatives, or credit cards.
Money is a problem and last session, Oregon lawmakers approved a bill expanding access to capital for companies that are too new or too risky to qualify for conventional bank loans. Under the bill, Business Oregon would raise the cap on direct loans to startups through its Entrepreneurial Development Loan Fund to $1 million, up from the current, temporary limit of $250,000. Business Oregon is the state’s economic development agency.
Supply chain shortages, rising wages, and growing real estate costs have added up for small businesses still weathering the pandemic. The measure expands loan eligibility to businesses with less than $1.5 million in revenue or fewer than 25 employees.
This month there was more good news for small business as Oregon received up to $83.5 million to promote small business growth and entrepreneurship through the American Rescue Plan. We will split this $83.5 million between innovative companies in their early stages and small local retail and manufacturing businesses that need help with start-up or expansion costs. The plan aims to reduce barriers to capital for traditionally underserved communities, including those in rural areas.
Oregon is a small-business state. We do benefit from the presence of Intel, Nike and other large employers. But as the numbers below indicate, small businesses provide more than half of the state’s private-sector jobs and much of its growth potential. According to a report from Oregon Business and Industries (OBI), Oregon relies more heavily upon small employers than the country at large.
- Number of Oregon small businesses (2021): 396,925
- Share of all Oregon businesses that are small businesses (2021): 99.4%
- Share of OBI members that have fewer than 100 employees: 82%
- Number of Oregon small-business employees: 893,758
- Share of state private-sector employees who work for small businesses: 54.9%
- Share of U.S. private-sector employees who work for small businesses: 46.8%
- Net increase in state small-business jobs, 2019 – 2020: 12,232
- Small-business share of private-sector job growth, 2019 – 2020: 83.4%
- Oregon small-business job growth between 1994 and 2018: 30%
- National small-business job growth between 1994 and 2018: 20.1%
Top Small-Business Industry Sectors, by Employment (2018)
- Professional, scientific and technical services: 63,952
- Real estate and rental and leasing: 41,070
- Other services (except public administration): 37,682
- Retail trade: 35,928
- Construction: 35,809
Top Small-Business Industry Sectors, by Payroll (2018)
- Health care and social assistance: $5.1 billion
- Construction: $4.9 billion
- Professional, scientific, and technical services: $4.2 billion
- Manufacturing: $4.2 billion
- Retail trade: $2.85 billion
I have written before about the challenges in our coastal lakes as they face warming waters, algae growth, and weeds that make them practically unusable. As I wrote in early August, at our lake in Lincoln City, the problem has become particularly acute.
On Thursday, I met with Debbie Colbert, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) Deputy Director for Fish and Wildlife Programs and Shaun Clements, ODFW Deputy Administrator for Inland Fisheries. I brought them out to the lake to see the weeds for themselves.
The Devils Lake Water Improvement District (DLWID) is looking at a range of management tools to control the weeds, including a mechanical harvester, herbicides, and restocking of grass carp. Grass carp were last used in the lake in the 1990’s and DLWID has begun working with ODFW on a permit to allow them again.
The problem is that grass carp are an invasive species that can quickly impact the health of our rivers and lakes if they escape and breed. Because of this, ODFW requires anyone using grass carp to obtain a permit which includes the requirement that carp be sterile. Some of the provisions in ODFW’s current rules (adopted after Devils lake was last stocked) would not allow restocking. However, ODFW is working cooperatively with the DLWID to propose a rule modification to the ODFW commission. Additionally, the Department is advising the DLWID in their development of a stocking proposal to ensure it minimizes risk and helps bring the weed issues under control.
The DLWID and ODFW expect to be asking the ODFW commission for approval in January of 2023.
Earlier in the week, I attended a groundbreaking for two new Habitat for Humanity homes in Lincoln County.
Affordable housing plays a critical role in strong and stable communities. Habitat is a nonprofit organization that helps families build and improve places to call home. You are familiar with their ReStores that accept and sell donations and diverting reusable household items and building materials from area landfills. Sales of donated items help Habitat for Humanity partner with local families to build, rehabilitate, and repair safe and affordable homes.
At the Capitol, we work to fund housing. Habitat helps build homes, one-at-a-time. With the beginning of two new homes, we gave two families and eight children a life-changing hope for the future. The joy on their faces was unmistakable.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission increased the bag limit of European green crabs from 10 to 35 per day. It’s part of a concerted effort to eradicate the invasive crustaceans — which are known to compete with native crabs for food. Green crabs cannot reproduce in cold temperatures, but since the ocean warming events of 2015, their numbers have dramatically increased.
I’m pleased to see the limit increase from 10. If you were catching Dungeness and unintentionally hauled in 11 green crabs as bycatch, you would be in violation of the bag limit. But because the green crab is on the controlled species list, it was illegal to return an 11th green crab to the water. The new regulation fixes that mess!
Later today I will be talking to Newport City Councilors about the need for parks and crosswalks near the new Agate Beach apartments, discussing coastal rip-rap issues with Surfrider, and then touring the Big Creek Dams with the Yaquina Bay Economic Development Foundation Board. I also have a legislative caucus meeting in the evening. So that’s Monday!
Tuesday I have two radio programs, talk wind energy with the Department of Energy, join Northwest Natural Gas to celebrate their new facility in Lincoln City, and meet with a legislative workgroup on Disaster Recovery. Other commitments this week include helping Susan host musicians from the Siletz Bay Music Festival, and a meeting of the Rural Economic Development Task Force. Saturday, I’m visiting in Toledo, attending a screening of the wildfire film, Elemental, and then taking questions on wildfire policy as a fundraiser for North Lincoln Fire, and possibly finishing the day with a Halie Loren concert to support the 2022 Coast Jazz Party.
As you can see, the days are full and that’s just fine. When the legislature is not in session, legislators should be out, listening, learning, and supporting.
Hope to see you somewhere on my travels.
address: 900 Court St NE, H-480, Salem, OR, 97301