This post was written by Dan Lombardi, small business organizer for the Main Street Alliance of Oregon.
On Wednesday, January 12, the Main Street Alliance of Oregon held a press conference in the state capitol of Salem to announce the release of a report: Direct from Main Street: Oregon Small Business Views on Credit and Lending. The report asked 116 Oregon small business owners and small family farmers about their experiences, since the recession began, with credit and lending. It also asked them for their perspective on one proposal to address the credit crunch: the creation of a state bank that would partner with local financial institutions to support small business lending and community economic development.
Jose Gonzalez, owner of Tu Casa Real Estate, spoke on behalf of the Main Street Alliance of Oregon. Jose is president of the Latino Business Alliance, as well as a leader within the Main Street Alliance of Oregon. He shared his own experience with credit, as well as the stories of his commercial clients who are struggling to access capitol to grow their business.
Normally an engine of employment and economic growth, small businesses are bearing the brunt of the current economic downturn, including the tightening of credit. According to the report, two thirds (67 percent) of Oregon small business owners reporting problems with access to credit had delayed or canceled expansion plans in response.
Jose also expressed his support for a state bank as a solution to this problem: “Oregon has a great opportunity to create a solution that will generate small business lending, and create jobs by investing in the local community – a State Bank in Oregon is just the way to make that happen.
Like Gonzalez, a strong majority (75 percent) of small businesspeople support the creation of an Oregon state bank like North Dakota’s.
Also in attendance at the report release were representatives for the Oregonians for a State Bank coalition, which as been working on a legislative concept to be introduced during the current legislative session. They were encouraged that the results of the survey show that there is strong support for a bank similar to the State Bank of North Dakota, which their proposed bill will be modeled after.