Consumer demand is key to creating more jobs and economic recovery, not lower taxes or fewer regulations, according to a survey of small business owners in Oregon.

The State of Main Street, a report from the Main Street Alliance of Oregon, found 52 percent of small business owners said more customers were what they need to create more jobs and get the economy back on track.

About 17 percent said lower taxes, 15 percent said fewer regulations and 16 percent said “other.”

The report is based on a survey of 443 small business owners throughout Oregon, including the Astoria area.

Small business owners said they continue to have problems getting credit, with 36 percent who reported challenges in the past year saying they had been turned down for a loan. The survey found 37 percent had decided not to seek a loan because they were discouraged.

Additionally, “Women business owners and business owners of color expressed even greater concern with obtaining capital for growth and development of their businesses,” according to the report.

The survey found 41 percent of women and people of color who had problems with credit had been turned down for a loan and 43 percent were discouraged from seeking a loan in the first place.

When it comes to paid sick leave, 48 percent of those surveyed support a statewide standard for all employers compared to 36 percent who oppose one. Sixteen percent were undecided.

Support for paid sick leave was higher among women business owners at 51 percent, with 24 percent opposed and 25 percent undecided.

Also on the benefits front, an increasing number of small business owners offer insurance to employees. In 2011-2012 the survey found 11 percent offered health care coverage; in 2012-2013 that increased to 15 percent. In the most recent survey the number had climbed to 18 percent.

In addition, 65 percent would support a universal health-care system where the employer was not solely responsible for health-care costs.

The survey included a section on politics, including political spending on elections.

The survey asked the question, “In January 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its Citizens United decision that corporations are free to spend unlimited sums of money in elections. Do you believe this change is good for small businesses, bad for small businesses, or has no impact?”

Seventy-four percent said the decision was bad for small business, two percent said it was good, 12 percent said it has no impact and 11 percent were undecided.

  • Oregon small business owners object to corporate loopholes and believe big corporations should pay their fair share of taxes.

An increasingly strong majority of those surveyed support comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants.

Small business owners support electoral reforms to limit the influence of money in politics.

They support local banking and public policy encouraging local lending, such as partnership banks.

The report concludes: “Whether in rural areas, or in the urban centers of the state, small business owners are often perceived as anti‐tax, anti­‐government programs, anti-regulations, anti­‐worker, and against initiatives like healthcare reform. This survey of 443 small business owners challenges these perceptions.”

It encourages further health-care reform and action on immigration reform as well as rethinking the “business as usual” agendas promoted by big business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce.

The Main Street Alliance of Oregon was formerly the Oregon Small Business Council.

According to it’s website, “The Main Street Alliance of Oregon works to provide small businesses a voice on the most pressing public policy issues in Oregon and nationally. Our advocacy promotes vibrant businesses and healthy communities, and fosters leadership development of socially responsible business leaders.”

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