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A Big Boost for Small Business in OR

May 4, 2009

Portland, OR – The Oregon state House of Representatives has just approved a "Small Business Bill of Rights," HJR43, calling small employers the "backbone of the state's economy," though in hard economic times such businesses can find it difficult to get money to get going or keep going.

This weekend, however, seven Oregon small business owners got word that their loans had been approved, to start or expand. Even when money is tight and unemployment is high, there's one source of funding that's going strong: Mercy Corps Northwest has been lending money and training entrepreneurs in Oregon for eight years. The nonprofit group serves people who want to work for themselves, but haven't been able to get credit from traditional sources.

Brian Fassett, the Mercy Corp Oregon lending manager, says that lately more people are deciding that self-employment is one way to avoid being laid off.

"I think it's always a good time to start a business if you have the experience, if you see a niche, some customers that are demanding a product or service that you're able to provide, as well or better than someone else, at the same or a lower cost."

Since the program began, loans have been made to more than 170 small businesses around the state, totaling $1.5 million.

Fassett says the goal is to grow the economy by coaching new businesses and helping their owners become self-sufficient, and they've funded all types of entrepreneurs.

"Such things as specialized construction, bilingual child care, preschool; food service, including things like food carts and small delis; messenger services. A lot of service-based businesses, like acupuncture, massage therapy."

The loan amounts range from $500 to $50,000 dollars; the average is about $10,000. Fassett says there are very specific things the money can, and cannot, be used for. Details can be found on the organization's Web site, at
www.mercycorpsnw.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR