We come together in the halls of power and across the media as small business owners because we need to grab our good name back from corporations and lobbyists. On issue after issue, we stand for an alternative economic point of view: it’s about community, customer demand, social justice and sustainable business models. While we come together to advocate we are also exploring ways to provide concrete, hands-on assistance to our members.
Our Washington state affiliate has launched a collaboration with the Oakland-based Beneficial State Foundation to tackle the small business issue #1: access to credit.
Over sixty Spokane mom-n-pops and their community allies and customers came out to connect and share ideas about alternatives to big banks and Wall Street who extract wealth from our communities and rig the marketplace against small businesses. Owners of retail stores, restaurants, small manufacturers, dry cleaners, mechanics, IT and health professionals, consultants, artists and everyone in between joined in to brainstorm ways to bring together values-driven lending institutions and good providers of financial know-how assistance and Main Street Alliance members.
Kat Taylor, CEO and Founder of Oakland-based Beneficial State Bank and Foundation, as well as the Bank and Foundation officers, visited Spokane for the occasion and got to hear a range of entrepreneurial experiences with financial institutions. The picture, as you may suspect, is not that pretty, especially for women owners, people of color, immigrants and first-generation entrepreneurs. When it comes to being treated well by the banking industry, every small business has a horror story.
Our goal is to produce a valuable and vetted portal of values-driven lenders and service providers across Washington and beyond and to work actively on connecting them with small businesses. When we strengthen the business operations of our own members, we also strengthen our local economies and our ability to have impact on local and statewide policy debates.
We envision a banking industry that is fair to the person with the least bargaining power, provides access to financial services for all our communities, particularly the under-served. We envision lending institutions that promote the stability of the financial system and contribute to the sustainability of our environmental commons.
In other words, we believe that money should serve people, not the other way around. We call our new project Building Main Street. Let’s build strong local economies, improve quality of life for each of us, and make widespread gains in social equity and environmental renewal. Main Street, not Wall Street.
Here is a little glimpse from Spokane. Stay in touch with our Washington affiliate and let them know what you think.
This post originally appeared at the Main Street Alliance of Oregon blog.
Portland, OR — This past Saturday, October 11th, Leaders with The Main Street Alliance of Oregon gathered in Portland to reflect on our past work and plan for the future of the movement. We’re confident that together we can continue to raise the voices of small business, working to change the way that we think about business.
Leaders from across the state joined together to think-big about the future of The Main Street Alliance, how we can build more support for Main Street businesses, and how we can continue to provide opportunities to lift up the real stories from Oregon small business owners who understand that they’re working families too.
Main Street leaders agree that the time has come for a paradigm shift. We’re working together to lift up the voices of small business owners across Oregon and the U.S., and reclaim our voices from the Big Business spacial interest groups who stole them years ago.
There is a groundswell of support for common sense work place protections like access to paid sick days, affordable health care, and secure retirement savings options. Main Street business owners know that when we provide basic standards like these, pay living wages to our working families, and ensure that the women working in our businesses are earning equal pay for equal work, our communities and small businesses thrive.
Here at The Main Street Alliance of Oregon, we’re looking forward to the growing number of supportive businesses in Oregon and across the country. We’re looking forward to reclaiming our small business voice! Join us!
This morning, Catherine and Cheryl Reinhart, owners of Eugene's Sweet Life Patisserie and leaders with the Main Street Alliance of Oregon, hosted a coffee meeting with Congressman Peter DeFazio. The Reinharts, as well as Rob Cohen of Falling Sky Brewing and Gavin McComas of Sundance Natural Foods, spoke about the state of small business in Eugene; the conversation focused on issues of tax fairness, the ever-expanding corporatocracy, immigration reform, women's economic equality, and a variety of local issues.
Working with The Main Street Alliance, neighborhood business owners like these leaders are working hard to change the way the business sector is perceived, both in Oregon and nationally. We know that the US Chamber of Commerce and other 'small' business groups are really representing the voices of the big guys. We're happy to have a champion for small business who understands that important distinction, like Congressman Peter DeFazio, fighting for small businesses and our communities.
The Main Street Alliance of Oregon held a briefing to update members on the proposal to create a state bank in Oregon. This briefing provided a brief summary of what the bill would do for small business owners as well as providing a short glimpse into the short 2012 session.