Government report reveals things are bad for small business in Oregon



(The Center Square) – It’s not a great time to be a small business owner in Oregon.

The state has enacted complicated and costly regulations for small businesses, according to a report from the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office of Small Business Assistance. The state legislature passed 60 new laws impacting small business in 2023, some of which created new penalties for businesses.

“Learning about these new laws takes substantial time, and tracking bills and analyzing the content is often a full-time job, which many small businesses cannot afford,” the report said.

The state has also provided poor customer service to small businesses in recent times, the report said. Issues included long telephone wait times, delayed responses to emails, and an inability to explain requirements to businesses in plain English.

“This office heard from small businesses about agencies engaging with customers only by email, eliminating telephone service on certain days of the week, and requiring that license applicants test in-person only in Salem — with no available remote testing option,” the report said. “Agencies have struggled to remain accessible and responsive to the public, failing to accommodate customers who cannot, or prefer not to, communicate exclusively by email.”

These issues, among others, contributed to a slowdown in startup businesses last year; just 341 customers contacted OSBA with startup questions, whereas 103 customers reached out with questions about closing their businesses.

The state’s Office of Small Business Assistance wants to figure out what it can do to help make it easier for small businesses to comply with complex regulations.

“Oregon aims to be a small business-friendly state, but there’s more we can be doing to help these businesses operate,” Trevor Leahy, the Small Business Ombudsman, said in a press release from the Secretary of State’s office. “The 2023 legislative session saw 60 new bills affecting small business passed into law. Part of what we do is communicate with small businesses on their terms to help them stay in compliance with these evolving rules and regulations.”

In 2023, OSBA assisted 2,624 customers in connecting with 96 governmental entities, including cities, counties, and state and federal agencies. Most (61%) cases involved customers who wanted information about business registrations and the Secretary of State Corporation Division.

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