There are some small business owners who think the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act isn’t doing much for them. Made up largely of tax breaks and trickledown from increased government spending, it’s meant to help the little fry — who just happens to make up about 90% of all Oregon businesses — but some regard it as pretty much no help at all. Once again, small business owners are either going to make it by their own grit, creativity and hard work, or they won’t make it at all.
Well, we can’t hand out dollars here at OBM (Oh, if…), but we can do something to help the beleaguered workhorse of the Oregon economy — our own stimulus package, if you like. This month we debut a new column called Your Business by Steve Strauss (see page 9). Strauss brings enormous expertise in the small business arena. He’s the small business columnist for USAToday.com and author of The Small Business Bible. And as a Portland resident, he’s perfectly situated to help Oregon’s small business owners with their challenges. So read him, write him and use him. He’ll be a great resource as you navigate the recession.
Here’s the part where I ask you to pay it forward.
Most of us are looking forward to summer, but summer is an especially hard time for children who don’t have enough to eat and get their main meal at school. And the shattering 12.1% unemployment rate in Oregon means a lot more families are forced to skimp and a lot more children are going hungry. The Oregon Food Bank reports it can’t keep pace with the need for emergency food boxes, which each month feed 75,000 children.
The state’s business leadership launched the Oregon Business Hunger Initiative last year, in partnership with the Oregon Hunger Relief Task Force, and it states its case simply: Hunger is a business issue. When children go hungry, they can fall behind in school, their health suffers and development lags. All of this hurts their ability to learn and thrive, and eventually can have devastating consequences for them and the community.
I know you have your own worries about keeping your business afloat and your own family safe. But if you’re reading this magazine, I will bet you have just a little more to give. So give it.
Contact Oregon Food Bank’s Jon Stubenvoll at jstubenvoll(at)oregonfoodbank.org (503-419-4175) or Marylhurst University president Judi Johansen, who heads up the initiative, at jjohansen(at)marylhurst.edu (503-699-6266). Tell them you want to help support the summer food program because you just can’t stand to read one more story about how any kid in Oregon has to go to school or go to bed without enough to eat. Decide that it’s unacceptable to you and that as a business leader you will help end this shame.