Access to Capital: The Main Street Alliance of Oregon, Hatch and Representative Tobias Reid worked to create the Community Public Offering, a new tool for Oregon-based businesses to raise up to $250,000 from fellow Oregonians. Made legal through the Oregon Intrastate Offering Exemption rules on January 15, 2015, it offers the chance to raise capital from ALL Oregon residents, regardless of wealth.
Retirement Security: After several events with coalition partners from Save Today, Secure Tomorrow and support from our State Treasurer, HB 2960 was signed by Governor Brown on June 26th. HB 2960 creates the Oregon Retirement Savings Fund Board and directs the board to create a retirement savings plan accessible to all Oregonians.
Economy-Boosting Jobs: Paid Sick Days, SB 454, had a rousing public hearing in April that was attended by more than 300 people. Legislators listened to impassioned testimony until nearly 10pm at night! With broad support from community groups, small business owners and working families from across the state, this bill was also signed by Governor Brown on June 26th.
HB 3025, also signed on June 26th by the Governor, establishes unlawful practice of inquiring into or considering applicant’s conviction history on application form or prior to interview or, if no interview is conducted, prior to conditional offer of employment. This bill was supported by our allies at AFL-CIO and The Urban League of Portland.
Although, we worked towards raising the minimum wage this session, our legislatures failed to pass any of the more than a dozen bills that were introduced. However, MSA helped to build strong support in the business community and will be working towards raising the wage to $13.50/hr in 2016.
A Healthier Oregon: After years of fighting against Big Oil, the Oregon Clean Fuels Program, SB 324, was passed and signed into law by Governor Brown on March 12. Our Co-Chair and Co-Owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, Jim Houser, had this to say: “Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program will provide the regulatory certainty Oregon businesses need to invest, helping our economy and expanding family-wage jobs across the state.”
Our communities, families and children are safer now that toxics are out of toys! SB 478 passed and was signed into law this session as well. A big win to help ensure a healthier Oregon!
Thanks for all of your support fighting for Oregon Main Street Businesses and our working families!
Over 1,500 Oregonians came together on Wednesday, February 11th on the Capitol steps to demonstrate the growing support for Health Care for All Oregon, the single payer/medicare for all movement alive and well (and healthy) in Oregon. Health Care for All Oregon is a coalition of over 100 organizations, including The Main Street Alliance of Oregon, supporting the HCAO mission: “To create a comprehensive, equitable, affordable, publicly funded, high quality, universal health care system serving everyone in Oregon and the United States.”
The crowd gathered on the steps of the Oregon Capitol building in Salem. The Rally program included music from Oregon performers such as Norm Sylvester singing The Health Care Blues, the Raging Grannies, Salem’s Dr. Atomic, Anne Weiss, and David Rovics, and “Mad As Hell Doctors.” The Rally also featured inspiring speakers, including elected officials, Senator Michael Dembrow, Representative Williamson & Smith-Warner, as well as many other community members.
Main Street Alliance of Oregon Statewide Leadership Circle member & owner of Freilinger Electronics, Jason Freilinger, spoke about the small business support for HCAO and for the universal health care movement. He echoed the feelings of thousands of small business owners from across Oregon, calling for the State to take action to help Oregon small business owners get out of the health insurance business, and back to focused on running their own businesses—that’s better for everyone.
The Main Street Alliance of Oregon and small business owners around the state continue to push for further health care reforms. There are important opportunities this Legislative Session that will move our state closer to understand exactly how we can create a universal health care system. Main Street Alliance of Oregon Executive Team member, and President of HCAO, Lee Mercer closed the rally with inspiring words, echoing the theme of the day, “everybody in, nobody out.”
Small businesses are the job creators in our economy, and in Oregon represent nearly 98% of the employers. Small businesses create jobs and deliver essential goods and services in communities across Oregon and the country; they help to bolster development of local economies. Seen as some of the most trusted messengers in our society, small business owners are a critical link holding our communities together.
As real-life experts on the economy, and the challenges and opportunities of running a business, small business owners have important perspectives on how to shape public policies to support strong local economies. This report focuses on the experiences and views of Oregon small business owners as documented in a rolling survey conducted between June of 2013 and July of 2014. The survey evaluated small business owners’ experiences and views on the economy, taxes, access to credit, money in politics, banking, health care, retirement security, workplace benefits and immigration reform.
This report is based on a survey of 443 small business owners throughout Oregon. The majority of these “Main Street” businesses were in rural cities from Hood River to Joseph, from Astoria to Brookings, from Monmouth to Ashland and in the Bend/Redmond area. Business sizes vary from 1-100 employees, with the majority below 25 employees.
Key findings include:
THE ECONOMY, CAPITAL ACCESS & TAXES
- Oregon small business owners believe increasing consumer demand is what is needed most to create more jobs and get the economy back on track. Most small business owners report that more customers will help them to create more jobs, not lower taxes or fewer regulations.
- Small business owners across Oregon continue to face challenges with access to credit. Respondents reported they have been turned down for loans within the past year, decided to not seek bank loans due to being discouraged, and have had lines of credit called in. This has particularly impacted women business owners and business owners of color.
- Oregon small business owners believe big corporations should pay more taxes, and strongly support closing corporate tax loopholes. The majority of respondents said big corporations are paying less than their fair share of taxes. A strong majority sees closing corporate tax loopholes as an necessary revenue-raising opportunity, before making further budget cuts.
- Small business owners support local banking and public policy encouraging local lending, like partnership banks by a factor of 9 to 1. The vast majority of respondents support cities and counties moving public deposits out of Wall Street banks and depositing them in local community banks and credit unions.
JOB QUALITY, HEALTH CARE & WORKPLACE ISSUES
- A plurality of Oregon small business owners surveyed support a statewide sick leave standard for all employers. The business community is divided on a paid time off standard, but supporters see it as a public health issue, and the right thing to do. Support for a state-wide standard was even higher from women business owners.
- An increasing number of small business owners are offering insurance to their employees. There is still need for more information about the health care law, how it works for small businesses, and how to access small business tax credits for offering a health care plan.
- Small business owners in Oregon support further health care reforms to guarantee universal health coverage, beyond the Affordable Care Act. Many are in support of a “single payer” or Medicare for All type of system.
- Small business owners in Oregon call for more retirement saving options for their employees and their families. The majority support the concept of the state creating a pooled retirement savings option for all Oregonians. Women business owners reported an even higher level of support for such a plan.
- An increasingly strong majority of Oregon small businesses support comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants. Respondents see the immigrant workforce as critical to the development, recovery and expansion of our economy.
POLITICAL SPENDING AND ELECTORAL REFORM
- Oregon small business owners are concerned about unlimited political spending in elections. Asked if the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision freeing corporations to spend unlimited money in elections was good, bad or had no impact for small businesses, a clear majority of respondents said it was bad for small businesses.
- Oregon small business owners support electoral reforms to limit the influence of money in politics. Many support a constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people and money is not speech, as well as other reforms to fund elections with small private donations and public matching funds rather than relying on wealthy donors and corporate money.
Leveling the playing field for small businesses must come in a variety of forms, with a particular attention to capital access for small business owners, especially for women and people of color. We must work together to find ways to support our communities, and the Main Street businesses that serve them. Increasing the ability for small businesses to grow and expand will allow them to create more jobs, and help to get the economy back on track. While access to capital plays a large role in investment in Main Street, increasing the buying power of customers is certainly a necessary piece of the puzzle.
Oregon small business owners are supportive of giving Oregon families a fair shot—real opportunities to succeed and prosper with policies like basic standards for paid sick days as well as safe, secure, and effective retirement savings vehicles for small business owners and their employees. Women small business owners and business owners of color are particularly supportive of these policies. There is a clear call from the small business community that it’s time to rethink the “business as usual” agendas promoted by big business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. We need to move towards understanding the whole picture of how our businesses interact with the communities we serve.
The Main Street Alliance of Oregon hopes lawmakers, the media and other decision makers will look closely at the results of this survey in planning public policy. We encourage them to listen and respond to the truevoices of Main Street.
Main Street Leaders meet with Congresswoman Bonamici – Women and working family issues addressed in new State of Main Street report
Portland, OR – This morning, Main Street Alliance of Oregon leaders, Deborah Field, co-owner of Paperjam Press, and Sara Howe and Christy Cushing, co-owners of Howe Innovative Design, met with Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici to release the new survey report, State of Main Street. This report challenges conventional perceptions of small business owners’ thoughts on key policy issues. It details responding business owners’ views on key issues facing Oregon and the nation.
Oregon small business owners are supportive of giving Oregon working families a fair shot—real opportunities to succeed and prosper with policies like basic standards for paid sick days as well as safe, secure, and effective retirement savings vehicles for small business owners and their employees. Women small business owners and business owners of color are particularly supportive of these policies. There is a clear call from the small business community that it’s time to rethink the “business as usual” agendas promoted by Big Business and special interest groups. We need to move towards understanding the whole picture of how our businesses interact with the communities we serve.
“Small businesses are a critical part of Oregon’s economy, especially in rural areas. Policies that support small businesses help create economic security and stability for working Oregonians. These policies include access to capital for those who want to start a new business, quality education, stable housing, and affordable health care,” Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici said. “When families earn a living wage, can take paid leave, and do not struggle to pay for child care, they are more likely to succeed and thrive. The Main Street Alliance report recognizes that these policies are good for small businesses because they lead to healthier families, a stronger local work force, increased consumer spending, and ultimately a stronger local economy.”
“As we continue to recover from this recession, I am committed to helping small businesses remain competitive in today’s market,” said Congressman Earl Blumenauer. “This report, issued by The Main Street Alliance of Oregon, clearly outlines some of the challenges that remain. While I’m concerned the benefits of our economic recovery aren’t being broadly felt, it’s encouraging to know Oregon’s small businesses feel as strongly as I do about the importance of affordable, quality healthcare, reforming our broken immigration system, and ensuring fair and equitable access to credit.”
The Main Street Alliance of Oregon hopes lawmakers, the media and other decision makers will look closely at the results of this survey in planning public policy. We encourage them to listen and respond to the true voices of Main Street.
Small businesses across Oregon know the private health insurance industry does not work for them. Here are elements business owners want in a health care system and how a statewide, publicly funded, universal health care system would meet these needs:
1. Remove business owners from the health care management business.
Universal care relieves employers of all administrative responsibilities. Employers do not need to manage funds, determine benefits, or pay providers.
2. Keep health care costs predictable.
Universal publicly funded health care allows every individual and business owner to know their share of costs as a taxpayer. These costs do not change regardless of health, family size, or employment status.
3. Keep employees, full- and part-time, healthy and productive.
By removing deductibles and co-pays, universal care encourages employees to seek health care early. Employees stay healthier and more productive, reducing sick time costs.
4. Provide employees with competitive health care benefits. Keep productive employees from seeking better benefits at another company.
Universal care means every employee gets the same comprehensive benefits regardless of employer. Entrepreneurs can start a new business and retain health care access for themselves, their families, and new employees. Employers do not need to split full-time positions into multiple part time positions to reduce health care costs.
5. Level the playing field for businesses large and small. Companies won’t pay less by reducing or eliminating health care benefits.
All individuals and businesses will pay their fair share for providing universal health care. Oregon companies will have a strong competitive advantage over states with employer based health care and will be better able to compete internationally with countries already providing universal care.
6. Assure health care independent of labor-management negotiations.
Benefits are determined by the single payer agency, not by individual labor-management contracts.
7. Remove the costs of providing care for retired and disabled employees.
A universal health care system provides everyone in Oregon with the same benefits, regardless of age, employment status or disability, relieving businesses of the burden of paying for retiree health plans.
Download a sign-on sheet (PDF) with which to recruit other small businesses to this campaign!