While running for Clackamas County Commissioner, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to business owners throughout the area. Even though they represent a variety of different industries, these entrepreneurs still have much in common with each other. They share several of the same concerns, especially since the onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic and forced government closures that have resulted from it.
Government policies can have a huge impact on the operations and potential profitability of any business venture. A cooperative climate can go a long way towards drawing the kind of private investment required to create a robust economy. Conversely, a highly burdensome regulatory environment causes uncertainty and makes existing businesses reluctant to expand their operations. It can also keep businesses from relocating to somewhere they do not feel welcome.
There are steps we can take in Clackamas County that will go a long way towards giving our businesses what they need to succeed.
One of the most important is making sure that there is enough physical property with the proper zoning to allow commerce and industry to thrive. Perhaps not surprisingly, there is a lack of available commercial and industrial lands in Clackamas County right now. This is causing the remaining undeveloped commercial and industrial properties to become more and more expensive. That makes it difficult for someone wanting to start a small business from scratch to set up shop. Not only that, but some companies who would otherwise move to Clackamas County can’t because there aren’t any properties large enough that are zoned for their needs.
Government agencies also have control over how much they charge in fees, permits and taxes. Based on the conversations I’m having with business owners, it appears to me that the county is charging too much for all three.
Building permits are so expensive in Clackamas County that many businesses have decided not to build new facilities here. Even worse, the cost of permits to improve an existing business property actively prevents expansions that would create jobs for county residents.
Transportation infrastructure is a critical function of government, and one that has not been done well in the Portland metropolitan area for decades. Products need to be taken to market so they can be sold to customers. Unfortunately, regional politicians have been so obsessed with trying to get everyone on bicycles, busses and light rail that they seem to have lost sight of the infrastructure that business needs. The simple fact of the matter is that it is impossible to transport freight on light rail, bikes or busses.
Time is money and time lost in traffic congestion detracts from profits. Business in Clackamas County needs efficient vehicular circulation. Our county is home to a large distribution center and roads and highways are critical to their success. We need new vehicular lanes immediately. We also must plan ahead for the growth that we know is coming to Clackamas County.
Fixing all of these problems involves creating the right policies at the county level. But many of them must be solved by working with state and federal officials in Salem and Washington D.C.
I’m committed to being a statesman and getting to work as your next Clackamas County Commissioner and plan to use what I learned as a small business owner to make the changes we need to get back on track.
My campaign has been endorsed by the North Clackamas Chamber of Commerce for all these reasons and more. I hope to represent those business owners, and all people and businesses across Clackamas County in such a way that business will be promoted and Clackamas County will be seen as the best location for business.