Good evening. I’d like to recognize the leadership Beneficial State Bank and Albina Bank have shown in their sponsorship of events like this. And I’d like to specifically call out the contributions of Beneficial’s co-founder and co-CEO Kat Taylor.
Economic development is an important job – and one we must do together. Optimally, public and private leaders work together from the same playbook. “Money on a Mission” is a leading example for how we can work together to grow our economy in a way that benefits all Oregonians.
We all know that 70 percent of all new jobs are created when existing Oregon businesses grow and expand. And access to capital and technical support are essential for small business growth.
In 2014, the University of Oregon – in partnership with the State and with community foundations – surveyed Oregon’s business finance gaps in a “Capital Scan” report. The report made it clear that we have a lot of work to do to make sure our startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses have access to the capital they need to expand their companies, grow their sales and hire new workers.
Small businesses are an engine of growth in Oregon’s economy. They account for 98 percent of Oregon firms and employ more than half the state's workforce. In 2012, the most recent year we have data, small businesses created nearly 25,000 net new jobs – with the biggest gain coming from companies with less than 5 employees.
Since I took office seven months ago, I’ve continued to look for ways the State of Oregon can partner with all of you to support small businesses.
We provided $400,000 in matching grants to help promising, innovative small businesses secure federal research grants.
We partnered with the Portland Development Commission and Multnomah County to create an inclusive startup fund that will deliver new capital to under-served communities. And we are close to announcing a similar initiative to support entrepreneurs in rural Oregon.
Today, I am here to announce another tool in the State of Oregon’s small business toolbox.
We are launching the Small Business Expansion Program to provide lower-cost financing for young, early-stage and smaller companies that often struggle to find conventional financing.
This pilot program is an essential part of Oregon’s “Grow Our Own” economic development strategy that focuses first and foremost on supporting the companies that already call Oregon home. We also seek to do so in a way that reaches Oregonians and businesses in underserved or disconnected communities.
Business Oregon, our economic development agency, will fund the program through its Oregon Business Development Fund. This is a long-standing program that provides direct loans to fuel growth at small Oregon companies, such as Oakshire Brewing of Eugene and Face Rock Creamery in Bandon.
The Small Business Expansion Program is a $5 million royalty financing fund that will provide an alternative to conventional debt and equity financing.
Thank you for supporting our efforts to grow Oregon’s economy.
We’ve made good progress but we have a lot of work ahead. Your continued support is essential to generating more ideas that will spark small business growth. Together, we can make Oregon stronger. Thank you.