OAN President Leigh Geschwill, co-owner of F & B Farms & Nursery, testified on the challenges small businesses face April 20 at the state capitol. She was an invited guest of the Oregon House Special Committee on Small Business Growth.
"The business climate in Oregon is poor at best," Geschwill said. "A shortage of labor in agriculture, lack of housing, poor transportation infrastructure and funding, a diminishing education system, and now skyrocketing labor and regulatory costs will keep this state in a permanent recession. These are all areas where government could step in and help."
According to special committee co-chair Rep. David Gomberg (D-Neotsu) the objective of the meeting was to get input from several speakers representing small business clusters in the state. "We are looking for issues, ideas and concepts that we can turn into legislation that's going to make for small business owners, and the people who work for them, just a little bit better here in Oregon," he said.
Owners representing several other small business clusters also testified. Video of the hearing can be viewed here. Geschwill's testimony begins at approximately the 33:45 mark. Her prepared remarks can be viewed here. (PDF)
Geschwill told the committee that F & B Farms & Nursery is a diversified agricultural business that employs 25 full time people year round. In addition to greenhouse products, the company grows hops, grass seed, specialty seed crops, row crops and soon hazelnuts.
She testified that the company’s potential for growth has been hampered by several factors, including cost management, regulations, a lack of available labor, pest and disease issues, water supply issues and the difficulty of getting products to market. She said that the government can help by developing transportation networks, investing in water supply development, making regulation and taxation more predictable and logical, and reducing barriers to market entry.
We should be spending our time planning ahead for the future of our state,” she said. “Right now we are spending all of our time focusing on the social and environmental goals, and have neglected to do the planning for the economic goals.”