Small Businesses are the Heart of Community: Let Our Voices be Heard!

"As a small business owner in Oregon, I feel responsible to contribute to the well being of our state and local communities. Measures 66 & 67 are essential to maintain the quality of life and our continued business success. Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society."
      – Peter Braun, Second-generation small business owner:
        The Cobbler’s Bench in Bandon, Oregon

Tax fairness means that we each pay according to our means, because we all benefit from the services provided by the government, like roads, education, and public safety.

But in Oregon, there is no level playing field for corporations when it comes to taxes, especially when people like our friend Peter Braun of Bandon is left paying the same state tax on his main street business as corporations like Sprint, Macy’s, and Merrill Lynch!

Does that make you angry?  We can tell you that small business owners are frustrated about this and with good reason!

Small businesses are central to our communities. Not only do they provide goods and services, jobs, and economic viability to small towns, but they also help form the identity of a place. They set the tone and culture; they’re a window into a town’s priorities, values, and pastimes.

The magic of the small town business owners is that they are first and foremost members of the community.  Their business decisions must always have two considerations in mind: what will keep my business afloat, and how will I keep this town a place that I want to live?  It’s easy to understand how small business owners easily move into public service roles on city councils, planning commissions, and citizen involvement committees.

Small Business Owners – We need you on our side!

Human Dignity Groups across the state are reaching out to the business owners in their midst now to start the conversation about values and fairness in taxation.  The January measures are not a blanket tax increase, they are a way to balance taxation and hold large corporations accountable to pay their fair share.

Oregon small business owners are not against big companies, but they are against unfair competition that puts the small-town lifestyle at risk and allows corporations to reap the local benefits of roads, schools, and public safety while not being asked to chip in!

Julie Parker of the Blackberry Pie Society recommends starting the conversation by explaining the facts:

These measures aren’t going to hurt you and they aren’t going to hurt your main street neighbors.  This truly is a way to balance the tax system without hitting the little guy, it is requiring big corporations to do what they should have already been doing: paying their fair share.

In order to build a new economy that encourages small business growth and accountability, we need to better understand the difference between small mom and pop type businesses that are so core to small town communities, and large corporations.

Money spent at a local business circulates six times more than money spent at a branch of a large corporation.  Corporations like Wal-Mart and Dow Chemical are based in other states, and much of their earnings leave the state as quickly as they come in.

One way that big, national corporations are hiding behind the public’s historical appreciation of small locally owned businesses is by trying to ride our coat-tails, pretending that they and we are the same.  This fall they are doing that by saying that by asking corporations to pay a fairer share of the taxes in Oregon, we will destroy small businesses. But the measures have been crafted to minimally impact small businesses while focusing on getting the large corporations to support the communities where they do business.

So let’s help the small business owners among us and in our communities to speak for themselves. Are you a small business owner? Is there a small business owner in your community that you can talk to about the tax fairness measures on the ballot for this January special election?  Check out the tools we have to help you start reaching out to your business friends and neighbors about the measures.  Can a business in your community provide a quote for this campaign or write a letter to the editor of the local paper?  ROP has sample quotes folks can sign off on or edit.  We even have a call script for approaching your local small business.  Email cara@rop.org with the names of businesses you can approach, or to get more fact sheets & information.

Let’s make sure small businesses, the heart of rural Oregon’s communities and economies, are heard loud and clear on this issue!

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