Hales Calls for Community Credit Portland

Evan Manvel

"These small, local businesses are thriving, ready to grow, looking to hire, and desperately in need of access to capital," said Hales.

Charlie Hales is calling for a Portland community credit project modeled after North Dakota's state bank. Efforts to create an Oregon state bank fell short in the 2011 legislature, and Hales is pushing for a Portland-focused model (Portland proper has nearly the population of North Dakota).

Excerpts from the press release:

Months in the planning – vetted through dozens of conversations with local bankers, community credit unions and small entrepreneurs - Charlie Hales today announces his plan for Community Credit Portland.

What is Community Credit Portland?

Community Credit Portland is a loan guarantee program funded by the City of Portland. Through this program, the City of Portland will be the first in the nation to make its money available to local Portland businesses. By harnessing the existing revenue of the City - about $2.14 Billion - and working with local banks and credit unions to create greater access to capital for qualifying businesses, the City can invest in the creativity and talents of our local businesses, spurring our economy forward.

Who will get credit through Community Credit Portland?

Businesses like Anderson Soap Company. A small and thriving family business established in 2007, Anderson Soap has proven it can survive through the harshest economy in recent memory... Charlie and members of his campaign have met face-to-face with dozens of small businesses just like Anderson's.

"These small, local businesses are thriving, ready to grow, looking to hire, and desperately in need of access to capital," said Hales. "Through Community Credit Portland, Portland's local small businesses will be able to take their manufacturing and hiring to the next level and Portland's economy will get the kick start it needs."

Will it work?

North Dakota created the State Bank of North Dakota in 1919 as a way to safeguard their money from the speculation that had caused the national economy to falter. Since then, profits from the State Bank have leveraged the General Fund of North Dakota by more than $500 million, creating new revenue for the State. In this most recent economic downturn, North Dakota remains the only state to weather the storm.

Thoughts? Reactions?

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    There isn't enough detail in the press release to judge. One big caution flag- whoever is underwriting the loans needs to put at least some of their own capital at risk, not just the city's. Moral hazard is not limited to Wall Street.

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    the state bank effort may not have passed muster with Bruce Hanna (he personally blocked it) but Treasurer Ted Wheeler is moving forward, both on key elements that he can move within Treasury & getting the state bank completed in a future session. it won't be a bank like NoDak's but it will use state funds to enable local banks & credit unions to extend credit to Oregon businesses & farms.

    Hales' plan sounds like a downsized version of that. and while it's commendable in the face of Hanna's unconscionable kowtowing to Wall Street banks, both Portland & the state need a statewide system to make this really work.

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    Yeah, I'm a bit unclear on how effective a loan guarantee program would be, vs. the full-blown state bank/municipal bank concept. Will it do as much? Will it be able to do more?

    It's a commendable concept, for sure, and Hales shows true visionary leadership for proposing it. Let's hope he gets the opportunity to work on the details further, make it real and use it to help boost the PDX economy!

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    I look forward to Commissioner Hales' continued work on this concept. It's easy to propose, not so easy to actualize once the big banks apply pressure.

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    I'd like to see it expanded to the county or through Metro - certainly, the problems with Move Your Money for Portland due to its size can be avoided for a smaller municipality.

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