Boosting small business lending

By Representative Chris Harker (D-Beaverton).

Small businesses employ thousands of Oregon workers and are likely to play a significant role in our economic recovery. These companies have a unique opportunity to take risks and innovate but, as it stands, they are not being given the chance. Lending institutions, many of which have received federal dollars to weather the current economic crisis, are not lending out the very funds the federal government provided to them for exactly that purpose.

On the House floor earlier this year, I spoke in favor of HB 2784, which would have required Oregon-based banks that took federal assistance to appear before House and Senate legislative committees to explain where the money went. The bill passed the House but stalled in the Senate. While this would have been an important step to add accountability and increase consumer confidence in lending institutions, there is certainly more we can do, especially at the federal level.

U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader recently came to Salem to look at the barriers small businesses face when seeking funding. Schrader is looking to make improvements to Small Business Association lending programs, and should be commended for that work. As a small business owner myself, I know first-hand the critical importance of access to working capital. Even in the best of times, there are occasions when short-term cash flow challenges demand a credit line. These days we’re nowhere near the best of times and for small businesses running good ideas on narrow margins, access to loans and revolving credit lines can mean the difference between writing paychecks... or IOUs.

We will work our way through the current crisis. Small businesses, entrepreneurs and Oregon workers will help us get there, but if only we can help them get the capital they need. We can not afford to let this opportunity pass.

  • Bobby (unverified)

    Hey Chris, I know a great way to help small businesses....DON"T RAISE THEIR TAXES! You want them to have more capital, perhaps you shouldn't vote to raise their tax bill.

    As a small business owner, I am advocate for measures to boost small business lending, but if you are really concerned with being a champion for small business, you would know raising taxes on small businesses, or as you say it, "the wealthy" is not the way do it. Get government spending under control and stop taking money from my wallet to pay for government spending increases!

  • geoffludt (unverified)

    I am learning to look at results rather than words to determine the purpose of legislation. You aren't seeing lenders lending because that's not what the money was intended for. The money has been used to consolidate banks and power, that is what is was intended for. As much as we would like to have seen that money distributed to the folks that are actually stuck with the tab, instead it was used to protect the banker class that comprise a large part of the President's advisor staff.

    It is sad.

  • mp97303 (unverified)

    Just to put the importance of small businesses into perspective here in Oregon, Inc Magazine just came out with their list of the 5000 fastest growing private companies in America. Oregon has 74 entries on this years list accounting for:

    JOBS -- 7068 REVENUE -- $3,301,500,000

    Small businesses, if given capital, will bring us out of this recession. Currently, many biz are seeing their access to capital dry up, resulting in layoffs and business closings. Find the money now.

  • mp97303 (unverified)

    Hey Bobby,

    I have been a small biz owner for going on 16 years and NO TAXES have ever come out of my pocket. They come out of my customers pockets.

  • Bobby (unverified)

    Even better, in the midst of the worst economic conditions in 70 years, I am sure you're customers will appreciate higher prices on your goods and services. I mean why wouldn't customers respond well to higher prices right now? Especially when 1 out of 8 of them are unemployed, like in Oregon. I am sure struggling Oregonians would be happy to shell out more of their money to pay for government spending increases...

    Whether you or your customers foot the bill for it, a $1 billion tax increase on business owners is NOT a productive and effective recipe for job growth and economic recovery.

    I am democrat, but I detest the stupidity of our Oregon lawmakers when it comes to how they handled this recession. Look North to Washington, the legislature simply froze their budget and didn't raise taxes, something that should of been done in Oregon. I am tempted to vote across aisle in 2010....

  • Fritz Schukar (unverified)

    This is the second time we've heard this in a week (Shrader's saying the same thing). Adding another layer of permanent taxes is not the way to get the economy back on track. Tax breaks might be more of a solution. F.

  • Richard (unverified)

    Blue formula for everything.

    Expand government and raise taxes and fees to pay for it.

    For the kids, for the sick, for the elderly, for the environment, for the future and for all things progressive.

  • (Show?)

    Representative Harker, I agree with you on the significance of small businesses for our economy, especially their role in innovation. I also agree that the credit/banking system needs to be more accountable for the federal funds they have received. And yes, get Oregon banks before legislative committees to explain what they have done.

  • Ron Morgan (unverified)

    "Look North to Washington, the legislature simply froze their budget and didn't raise taxes, something that should of been done in Oregon..."

    Washington's Business and Occupation Tax is five times larger than Oregon's new valuation of the corporate minimum.

    Washington has a corporate tax rate of 5.5% of gross state product. The tax fairness legislation raises Oregon from 3.7 to 3.8%

    The legislature here didn't have the option of simply freezing the budget, they made 2 billion in cuts and were able to qualify for federal dollars based on matching revenue.

    Without the tax fairness legislation we would be facing cuts across the board in education, health care and public safety that would cripple our ability to respond to need, and would be more expensive to restore after an economic recovery.

    The legislature acted prudently to raise the corporate minimum and personally, as someone who has owned a small business, and as a someone who's kid graduate from an Oregon school and who uses our state services, I think it's a pretty small price to pay to avoid becoming a basket case.

  • Foto Bugil (unverified)

    Thanks for sharing your thought. Wish you good luck for your future endeavors... really useful for me... :)

  • Susan (unverified)

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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