By Ben Jacklet
Between October and December of 2010, a team of researchers went door-to-door canvassing Main Street businesses from Ashland to Troutdale. The goal was to get a sense of the credit challenges facing small businesses and farms, and to gauge potential support for a state-owned bank to boost lending in Oregon.
The survey was not scientific. “I basically walked down the street and if the business was open I talked to them,” says Dan Lombardi, statewide small business organizer for the Main Street Alliance of Oregon.
Nor was the study objective. The Seattle-based national organization backing the research project, Alliance for a Just Society, is an advocacy group formed to support President Obama’s health care reform bill.
But the findings of the January 2011 “Direct from Main Street” report were compelling. More than half of the 116 Oregon-based business owners and farmers canvassed said they had struggled to get loans. Two-thirds of those who struggled to get loans said they had delayed expanding as a result. An even greater majority — 75% of all those surveyed — supported the creation of a state bank in Oregon.
What is a state bank and how might it look in Oregon?