Grow Oregon Program Expands

VOIS Supports More “Economic Gardening” in Oregon

July 23, 2013 – The Oregon Legislature initiated the Grow Oregon pilot program in 2011. This program provides vital services to Oregon based traded-sector companies that are ready to grow but need strategic business advising and support to make the jump to the next stage of job creation. Despite growing momentum during the initial phase of Grow Oregon, continuation of the program was not guaranteed.

VOIS Board Members Jefferson Smith and Valerie Plummer serve on the Grow Oregon Council – an unpaid, non-partisan board appointed by the legislature that guides the Grow Oregon program. They recognized first hand the need for Grow Oregon to continue as a part of the state’s sustained, long-term job creation strategy. With their guidance, VOIS worked hard to ensure that the legislature continued the Grow Oregon program for the next biennium and expanded its funding.

Learn more about Grow Oregon and other business support services on the Business Oregon website.

Prosperity through exporting… to ourselves

by Sattie Clark, VOIS Founder/President, Co-Owner Eleek, Inc.

You Can't Buy Happiness But You Can Buy Local And That's Kind Of The Same Thing.Did you know the City of Portland and the State of Oregon spend significant money each year to encourage the export of Portland/Oregon products and services? Last week I attended a presentation on a Portland Development Commission initiative called “We Build Green Cities.” It got me thinking about where effort (and taxpayer money) is being applied and whether it delivers good value in terms of increasing prosperity and creating jobs here.

I’m all for exporting. I like to say that my company, Eleek, exports lighting and imports money. We sell our products across the country (and sometimes beyond). But exporting alone doesn’t create prosperity here unless it actively supports jobs. That happens when the exporting companies make things here and/or buy supplies and services here, supporting other companies that are hopefully doing the same–sourcing locally. For the companies whose goods and services are purchased by other local companies, it’s like they are exporting without all the added carbon miles. In other words, there are huge untapped markets right here in our own backyard.

As an example of implementation, at Eleek we buy more than 80 percent of our materials and services from within 50 miles of our shop. We do this in order to reduce the environmental impact of our business and our products, but also as a conscious investment in our local community and economy. Studies show that when we consumers buy locally-owned, we get a lot more bang for our buck because the money recirculates in our community longer. And locally-owned businesses are consumers too. We can walk our talk by bringing our own purchasing practices into alignment with our values. At Eleek, we created a sustainable purchasing policy (link to pdf of eleek purchasing policy) to guide our decisions in the marketplace (feel free to use it as a template for your own sustainable purchasing policy and pass it on). Voting with our dollars is one of the important ways that we can advocate for a prosperous future for Oregon. When local companies priortize buying from each other rather than sending their dollars somewhere else, we all win.

Resources: PDC’s “We Build Green Cities” site has a local business directory, and so does Neighborhood Notes.

Why Businesses Should Engage in Policy and Vote!

by Jeff Cogen, Multnomah County Chair

As you read this, Oregonians throughout the state are casting their primary election ballots. They’re voting for city councilors, judges, county commissioners, local initiatives, state representatives and senators, congresspeople, and much, much more.

Everyone has different reasons for voting. As a former entrepreneur myself, I imagine your reasons for voting not only have to do with your personal convictions and values, but also with issues that impact your business – fair taxation, sensible regulations, sustainable planning, etc…

As an elected official, I rely on all members of the community to help me form and support policies that will have a positive impact on all residents of Multnomah County. The county’s business community is no different. And even though the size of a business often dictates what policy outcomes they would like to see, I aim to make sure that our small business community has an equal seat at the table with the larger businesses – creating an atmosphere of fairness and cooperation.

Before taking a seat and voicing their opinions at that table, business owners can use the power of the ballot box to ensure government is receptive to their needs. The sad truth is that too few people participate in one of the easiest civic rights – voting.

In fact, statistics show that more people vote in general elections than primaries, and I would argue that primaries are just as important as general elections. That’s why I’m calling on you, Oregon’s sustainable business community to take the time to inform yourself and mark your ballots with not only yourself in mind, but also your business and other fellow business owners in mind.

Please make sure the sustainable business voice is heard in this primary election. Ballots are due your county elections office by May 15th. You can find a list of drop box locations here: http://www.sos.state.or.us/dropbox/#

Voice for Oregon Innovation & Sustainability
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