Shortly after Oregon’s 2016 Legislative Session wrapped up, I received an excited phone call from Representative Jodi Hack. While the recently concluded session had been dubbed by many as the most detrimental to business in Oregon’s history, an opportunity was presenting itself.

Representative Hack had met with House Speaker Tina Kotek, and in that meeting was invited to sit on a new committee – the House Committee on Small Business Growth. Whether the formation of this committee was simply a political maneuver to deflect criticism from Speaker Kotek was to be seen, but Rep. Hack and I took this committee very seriously – and we spoke a number of times about who could testify, and what messaging could be. 

The Committee met the morning of July 6th, and I had tapped Curt Arthur on the shoulder. Curt is a member of the Salem Chamber Executive Committee, and he’s a reputable resource not only for his business, SVN Commercial Advisors, but for many industries. He’s in a unique position in that he has an intimate understanding of what moves businesses into – and out of – our state. With the limited time Curt had to share, he wisely used the time to focus on Oregon’s tax structure, particularly our high capital gains rate. He also localized his presentation and encouraged the privatization of Oregon’s public real estate offering. Two significant properties in Salem are held by the Department of Administrative Services (Mill Creek Corporate Center and the North Campus of the State Hospital). Both of these properties are encumbered by the bureaucratic processes that accompany state agencies, and what could be useful – and taxed – land has not moved along in development as quickly as it could. Salem growth and development has suffered as a result.

See Curt Arthur’s full testimony below:

Others in business and organizational leadership from around Oregon offered testimony throughout the morning, and there were praises for partnerships with colleges and universities. There were jeers for our high minimum wage and BOLI oversight. Questions from committee members were sincere and well thought out. The Committee will continue to hold meetings around Oregon through the fall, and our sincere hope is that the insight brought by those in the trenches of job creation will be heard, and Oregon can be where it needs to be – creating jobs at a high level for the tremendous growth that’s expected in the next decade. The Salem Chamber is committed to being at the table as these ideas become tangible policies moving forward.

A special thanks to Representative Hack for her commitment to leadership, and to Curt Arthur for his thoughtful and succinct testimony.

You can view the full video, agenda and list of committee members by clicking here.

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