Getting Oregon Back On Track: The Oregonian Weighs In

Date: January 19, 2016

Is it time to admit rural Oregon is in crisis? The Oregonian thinks so.

2015 left plenty of reasons for Oregon small business owners to feel anxious about the coming calendar year. Regulations such as mandatory paid sick leave, retirement-plan requirements and the low carbon fuel standard are either currently in effect or awaiting enforcement after last year’s spell of unrestrained rulemaking.

The work has been clearly cut out for small employers from Portland to Powell Butte, according to the West Coast’s oldest newspaper. “Small businesses have reason to enter 2016 with even more trepidation,” The Oregonian’s editorial board wrote in a Dec. 26 article.

In two recent pieces under its 2015 Editorial Agenda, The Oregonian outlined the stressors placed upon small business owners last year that will carry into 2016. For Portland and other metro areas, the pinpoint of those concerns is tax increases.

“Portland small businesses, in particular, enter 2016 facing a mountain of uncertainty,” the board wrote. “Every city problem—from street repairs to affordable housing to parks— seemingly produces a new proposal for fees or taxes. Who knows what will be next?”

In resource-rich rural Oregon, an area often overlooked but heavily relied upon, excessive taxation conflates the already challenging reality of running a small business in rural communities and small-town U.S.A., the board says.

The majority of the state “is inextricably linked to natural resources,” the board wrote in an article titled “Time to admit rural Oregon is in crisis.” This puts rural Oregon “in conflict with the increasingly environmentally-driven Portland area that holds the bulk of the state’s political power. Is compromise, and progress, possible in that atmosphere?”

State Director Anthony Smith says it is—so long as elected officials show their support.

“The legislative priorities of metro-area lawmakers often come with real-world consequences for Oregonians in the rural parts of our state,” Smith says. “If rural optimism is going to increase in 2016, elected officials will need to send a clear message across the state acknowledging that it is only through hard work of rural Oregonians that the families they represent are able to have food on their tables and roofs above their heads.”

Other issues raised by the editorial board include difficulty obtaining loans, minimum wage hikes (which “likely will be the biggest policy decision affecting small businesses this year”), and the excruciatingly long process of obtaining permits.

“The issues raised by The Oregonian’s Editorial Board are exactly what NFIB members in Oregon are most concerned about,” Smith says. “Noting all the additional burdens placed on small business owners in 2015, the board is spot-on when they suggest that this year, policy makers should be focusing on ways to help Oregon businesses grow, not just survive, and certainly avoid a repeat performance of 2015.”

Related Content: Small Business News | Economy | Oregon

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