Kate Brown ramps up small business

| Print |  Email
Linda Baker
Thursday, June 13, 2013

BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

06.13.13 Blog KTBBy her own accounting, Secretary of State Kate Brown is taking more risks her second term than the first.  In May, the Senate approved a B-Corp bill championed by her office that would allow companies to register under a moniker that reflects their commitment to social and environmental sustainability.

Brown is also pushing full steam ahead on a (controversial) proposal to automate voter registration and several small business bills aimed at addressing the state's business-friendly ranking.

I met with Brown earlier this week at Oui Presse in Portland’s Hawthorne District.

Here are a few highlights from our 40-minute conversation.

Benefit Companies

"People ask: why are we doing this? But why in Oregon wouldn’t you want to do this? We need a legal structure for companies to operate for public purpose in addition to profit. When I talk to students in MBA programs, social entrepreneurship is what they want to do. They want to save the world but make money doing it.

I don’t know that  [B-Corp legislation] will change the business climate in Oregon, but it is a great marketing and branding tool.

We did a couple of things differently from other states' B-Corp legislation. We allow LLCs to become benefit companies, so it's a little bit broader in that respect. But we are more restrictive in terms of shareholder restrictions. We wanted to be able to have the support of our Fortune 500 companies moving forward."

Office of Small Business Assistance

 "We built a portal for the state of Oregon to help businesses navigate regulations, and it became really clear there was a problem because there was no help line. Everybody says small businesses get in trouble with state government or regulations, but we had no help. So we looked at other models from other states. We just came out of committee this morning on the Office of Small Business Assistance.  It will give us ability to hire two [full time employees] to provide assistance and advocate for new entrepreneurs or the small business owner who wants to expand.  

Our office has no regulatory or enforcement authority; we are ministrial so we can be a real help. We are required to report back to the legislature about barriers for businesses. We keep hearing that Oregon is so difficult to do business in, but for the first time that information won’t be anecdotal."

House Bill 2643

"This was introduced by Caddy McKeown, legislator for the South Coast, requiring us to study the local fee situation and take a look at fees charged by local governments."

Business Friendly

"People have this perception we're not business friendly, but if you look at the national rankings we do ok. Last year, Oregon was ranked No. 14 on Forbes' ranking of business friendly states and the year before we were 9th."

Risk taking

"The second term is much more fun than the first term. There is a level of freedom and willingness to take risks. And honestly, I have a different staff.  My first term staff was a little more cautious.  Now I’m saying: guys this could be it. I may not ever be in elected office again. Let’s go for it. 

So we have the voter registeration proposal. I’m appalled Americans allow us to have an election system that is subpar in the world. Are you kidding? People have to wait in line to vote? In a lot of other countries you are registered by virtue of being a citizen. Even Iraq has an automatic voter registration system. 

In general, I'm looking at how we move, shake and have a paradigm shift while we’re here."

Linda Baker keeps tabs on CEOs and public policy issues.

 

More Articles

Editor's Letter: Tortoise and the Hare

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015

The day after this issue goes to press, the city of Medford will host its annual business conference. The event features Minoli Ratnatunga, co-author of the Milken Institute’s annual “Best-Performing Cities” report. Preliminary data suggests that Medford is likely to retain its No. 1 ranking among best-performing small cities for having a higher concentration of high-tech firms than the national average. 


Read more...

MBA Perspective

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Robin Anderson, dean of the Pamplin School of Business, University of Portland: "You need people who are comfortable leading in ambiguity."


Read more...

4 winners and losers in the Kitzhaber scandal

The Latest
Thursday, February 12, 2015
021315-govorno-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Examining the governor's rapid fall from grace in a "bizarre" and "unprecedented" saga.


Read more...

How Oregon will survive the loss of Hanjin

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT | OB CONTRIBUTOR

"Shipping containers to Portland is like waiting for a bus that travels once a day."


Read more...

10 quotes explaining crisis at Port of Portland

The Latest
Friday, February 20, 2015
022015 port portland OBM-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The ongoing labor disputes at the Port of Portland came to a head two weeks ago when Hanjin, the container port's largest client, notified its customers it would be ending its direct route to Oregon.


Read more...

Carbon Power

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Researchers in a multitude of disciplines are searching for ways to soak up excess carbon dioxide, the compound that contributes to global warming.


Read more...

Downtime with the president of NAI Norris, Beggs & Simpson

March 2015
Monday, February 23, 2015
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Live, Work, Play: Catching up with Chris Johnson.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS