Representative Brian Baird (WA-03) announced today that the U.S. Department of Labor has awarded $5,000,000 in grant funding to the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership for its proposed Renewable Northwest (ReNW) Energy Training Partnership program.

Rep. Brian Baird

Rep. Brian Baird

The grant is estimated to train and educate approximately 1,700 dislocated and unemployed Washington and Oregon workers to meet the needs of employers in renewable technology.

Rep. Baird had this to say:

Investing in renewable technologies not only stimulates new domestic industries but also promotes economic development and reduces our dependence on foreign oil. During tough economic times and record unemployment in Southwest Washington, projects like ReNW help bring quality, up-to-date energy training and education to our workers.

Read the full release at Natural Resource Report.

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Our friends at the nationwide Main Street Alliance have produced this fact sheet on financial reform and small business:

Weak public oversight allowed Wall Street’s risky and complex “financial innovations” to threaten the real economy the financial sector is supposed to support. Empty storefronts on Main Street reflect the consequences small businesses face as a result including the disappearance of customers and dried up lines of credit. Meanwhile, large financial institutions receive public bail-outs, yet remain unaccountable. Main Street’s small businesses need financial reform to restore the stable economic foundation we need to thrive.

How will financial reform benefit small business?

By keeping an eye on systemic risks

· Loopholes in the regulatory system should be closed to ensure soundness, fairness and transparency. Agencies should receive the resources they need and be held accountable for fulfilling their missions.

· A central authority should oversee the multiple, separate regulatory agencies and watch for systemic risks to the broader economy.

· The current practice where regulatory agencies compete with each other to attract financial institutions to watch over should be stopped. This creates a conflict of interest where institutions shop around for the agencies with the weakest oversight, creating a “race to the bottom” that threatens transparency and protections.

By protecting consumers and small businesses

· Strong consumer protections go hand-in-hand with ensuring a more solid foundation for our economy, yet no central authority devoted to protecting consumers and small businesses exists. One should be created and empowered to put a stop to unfair, deceptive or abusive products and practices that harm small businesses.

· Federal laws should create minimum, not maximum, consumer protections. States should supplement federal laws and be able to protect their residents and local businesses. Federal agencies and courts should not preemptively prohibit states from creating protections that meet local needs.

By supporting communities

· The foreclosure crisis has led to a broad depression of property values and has prolonged the larger financial crisis. Small businesses are impacted both by the steep decline in business activity as families struggle to make their mortgage payments and by the decline in the commercial real estate market. In order to promote economic recovery that benefits small businesses, public policies must address the foreclosure crisis and free up disposable income for spending in local economies.

· The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) encourages banks to meet the needs of low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. However, the CRA overlooks neighborhoods where banks make loans but do not have physical branches. In addition, regulators are prohibited from collecting data related to gender, race and ethnicity, allowing discriminatory lending and residential segregation practices to continue. The CRA should be modernized so as to encourage loans and investments in neighborhoods where they are needed the most.

Corvallis business owner Gail Wells published a letter to the editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times this weekend highlighting why she is supporting Measures 66 & 67.

From the letter:

I don’t relish paying taxes; nobody does. But I consider them a fair price for doing business in a state that values education. I’m in the communications business, so I depend on educated readers. I wouldn’t do well in a state that didn’t care about its schools.

I believe most business owners would agree that educated, trained, skilled citizens are essential to a strong economy and an attractive quality of life.

Read the rest of Gail’s letter here.

The Oregon Small Business Council and our friends at the Main Street Alliance are in the final days of our nationwide survey on health care, financial reform and climate change.

If you are a small business owner, we would greatly appreciate your input. The survey is online here and only takes a few moments to complete. You will be helping to drive our federal policy agenda for the first quarter of 2010.

Please contact us if you have any questions about the survey.

Click here to complete the survey.

The Oregon Small Business Council issued the following release today after signing on as an official coalition partner of the Vote Yes for Oregon campaign.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, January 6, 2010
The Oregon Small Business Council today endorsed a Yes vote on Oregon Ballot Measures 66 and 67, citing the importance of preserving essential services and the soft impact the measures have on small business.

“These measures are necessary footholds to maintain vital services in tough times,” said OSBC Board Chair Mark Kellenbeck of Cascade Management in Grants Pass. “Small businesses will be minimally impacted while more dollars spent will remain in Oregon.”
Measure 66 raises the personal income tax on households reporting more than $250,000 in annual income. Measure 67 fairly increases the corporate minimum tax to keep more dollars in Oregon while protecting small employers from any job-killing effects.
“As small businesses continue to create jobs around the state,” Kellenbeck continued, “these measures will ensure our employees and their families a sound education, public safety, health care and other essential services needed to secure our state’s economic recovery.
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The Oregon Small Business Council is a statewide nonprofit organization providing advocacy, networking and education for small business owners.



The Small Business Administration (SBA) will restart lending under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) thanks to $125 million included in the U.S. Department of Defense appropriations bill signed into law on Saturday.

According to the SBA’s news release, the funding will support higher guarantees and lower rates for small business lending through February 28, 2010.

“This Administration and Congress recognize that these key programs were
successful in helping jump-start the economic recovery for America’s small
businesses,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “The increased guarantee and reduced fees on SBA loans helped put more than $16.5 billion in the hands of small business owners and brought more than 1,200 lenders back to SBA loan programs. The extension of these programs through February is important to continuing our path toward recovery and will mean thousands more small business owners have access to the credit they need.”

The Oregon Small Business Council praises this additional support of small businesses and will be supporting an expansion of SBA lending as part of broader financial reform in 2010.

You may have already heard: the United States Senate took a monumental step toward passing its health care reform bill early Monday morning by approving a cloture motion on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s so-called manager’s amendment, which contains the compromises made to reach 60 votes. Now the bill will continue debate before voting on final passage, probably Thursday, December 24.

What you can do

Call Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden to thank them for their votes to move forward and their continued hard work on health care reform that works for small businesses. After final passage, we’ll focus our efforts on the conference negotiations, where the final details will be worked out between the House and Senate versions before it becomes law. Keep in touch as we move forward in the next couple weeks.

And after that?

The Oregon Small Business Council is moving from its infancy into adulthood, and we need your help. As we look ahead to January, please consider helping us grow by doing one or more of the following:

  • Fill out our short issues survey so we know what issues are important to you as a small business owner.

  • Host a small business networking event–happy hour, coffee hour, etc.–to help network with other business owners in your area and work toward the goal of building successful and sustainable local economies.

  • Recruit five small business owners from your block, neighborhood or city. Local economies are only as strong as the network to sustain them, and we need your help to build a strong advocacy force for small businesses that can stand up to out-of-state corporations and other well-funded special interests. Your friends can sign up here.

  • Volunteer for a leadership position. As we move forward, our structure is changing. We are now seeking officers for a board of directors and volunteers to work on policy issue committees.

For more information on any of these opportunities, please contact Andrew at 971-634-0010 or andrew@oregonaction.org.

We truly appreciate your ongoing involvement and hope to keep working with you to build a one-stop shop for small business advocacy, education and networking in 2010 and beyond. Please enjoy time with your family and friends this holiday season and think about how you’d like to build Oregon’s small business economy in the new year.