“No teeth” in Portland’s business rights resolution

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

PORTLAND Since its inception, the Small Business Advisory Council has been working to ease the tension between city government and members of the Portland small-business community, who often feel their interests are overlooked when decisions are made. With the city council’s recent unanimous adoption of the Small Business Bill of Rights, they hope they’ve reached a truce.

The 12-point document lays out a list of things small-businesses expect from the city council, such as a predictable regulatory environment, maintenance of a system of streets and roadways that don’t inhibit commerce, and opportunities to bid on city contracts.  

“On the government level, we hope as projects and policies are being proposed it will be taken into account,” SBAC chair Jackie Babicky-Peterson says.

Passed as a resolution — not an ordinance — the bill of rights cannot  change policies or laws affecting small businesses, and that has some wishing it went further.

“It’s two or three steps away from binding the city to anything,” says Kevin Spence, a Portland attorney who also runs the website PortlandSmallBusiness.com. “I just don’t think there’s any teeth to it.”

Babicky-Peterson acknowledges that weakness but says the advisory council is already working on an ambitious 2008 action plan that includes working with commissioners to add line items to public works projects to mitigate construction inconveniences for businesses, and cooperating with the Portland Development Commission to secure short-term working capital loan funds for small businesses.


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