BBPDX Inspires Legislature to Take Action on Access to Capital

Back in September, BBPDX members and others from around the state testified before the House Economic Development Committee about the challenges they’ve faced accessing capital to grow their businesses. They shared that it’s not just about whether or not the capital is out there but whether or not they can qualify for a loan.

We were pleased that the Portland Business Journal covered the hearing as part of their ongoing coverage of this challenge facing Oregon’s economy. And BBPDX member Kate Hammerback from Occam Advisors tweeted this remarkably succinct assessment of the opportunities that our state is missing out on when underserved entrepreneurs are unable to access capital to grow their businesses.

In addition to the hearing, our members and other business owners from other parts of the state had an opportunity to meet with both Treasurer Tobias Reed and Governor Kate Brown to share their concerns. We are grateful to them and their staff for taking the time to meet with our members and to express enthusiasm for the work BBPDX is doing to raise awareness of these economic development challenges.

As a result of this compelling testimony, committee members were so inspired that they decided to dig deeper to explore how they could take action in the upcoming February 2020 legislative session.

Just this week, BBPDX was back in Salem to participate in a workgroup convened by Rep. John Lively, Chair of the House Economic Development Committee. Over 20 folks from around the state gathered in person and on the phone to explore possible first steps to address this complex issue.

BBPDX is grateful to Chair Lively for prioritizing the creation of this workgroup and to the entire committee for the shared passion for addressing this challenge. The diverse table included representatives from Craft 3, Oregon Entrepreneurs Network, Oregon Community Foundation, Catalyst Law, Meyer Memorial Trust, Microenterprise Services of Oregon, Community Lending Works, the Oregon Small Business Development Center and Business Oregon as well as small business owners and representatives from the Governor’s and Treasurer’s office.

In the coming days, we at BBPDX will continue discussing some possible solutions that emerged in this week’s meeting such as a loan loss reserve fund that would help bridge the collateral gap faced by underserved entrepreneurs.

We expect to hear soon about another workgroup meeting during the November legislative days, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted. Please do let us know if you’re interested in learning more about this process.

We recognize that not everyone can make it to Salem to testify or that our members even know a lot about the legislative process in Salem. That’s why we make sure to include civic education components to all our advocacy efforts. We want to ensure that regardless of our advocacy successes or failures, we are opening up the civic process to our members along the way!