Slowed development of new companies aligns with national trends and continues the state’s reputation as unfriendly to small business.
Oregon’s startups have ground to a screeching halt recently. New-business development for the state is at an all-time low, according to a report that compiled data since the late 1970s and was released this spring by the Office of Economic Analysis.
Startups as a share of total Oregon businesses have dropped from more than 12 percent in 1990 to less than 8 percent today. Oregon’s largely year-over-year decreases follow a national trend as percentages have been shrinking across the country. While business license applications in the state have begun to grow, they remain less than historical norms.
“These indicators of entrepreneurship and business formation all show that the recessionary declines are over, but that not much progress has been made in terms of regaining lost ground,” Josh Lehner writes in the report.
The state’s depressed growth in new business may be a direct reflection of its unfriendly mentality toward small business. “If the financial and regulatory barriers are too great, it discourages entrepreneurship and startups,” says NFIB State Director Jan Meekcoms. “Oregon’s 2015 session was the most anti-business session in recent history. This message was noticed.”
Uncertainty hangs over Oregon’s business future—a state that has always been heavily centered on small business and entrepreneurship. “In Oregon, small businesses represent 57 percent of all jobs and 92 percent of small businesses have less than 20 employees,” says Meekcoms. “We are a small business state.”
According to a Brookings Institute study conducted since the 1970s, there are currently more businesses dying than being born in the U.S. “This is an alarming statistic as small business provides critical employment in our state and throughout the country,” says Meekcoms. “Where we have loss of employment, we lose confidence—and the economy, education, public services and culture of the area suffer.”