Window into Small Business Job Creation

Discussions of jobs often focus on landing a large employer or finding a way to harvest more trees in rural Oregon. Many of the new jobs created are in small businesses that go largely unnoticed.

The January 2014 edition of Labor Trends, published by the Oregon Employment Department, includes a list of new businesses in the Portland metropolitan area. It is fascinating reading. Here are some samples:

  • Barbur World Foods, a 70-year-old fixture in Southwest Portland, will open a Pearl District store employing 50 people.
  • Capital One Financial Corps. plans to add 50 employees to its existing Tigard call center.
  • The 83-room, extended-stay Candlewood Hotel will open in east Vancouver.
  • Flooded Fox Den, a craft distillery, will launch next year in Forest Grove, producing rum, gin and a hazelnut liqueur
  • Moxie Dance Theatre, a dance school, opened recently in West Linn.
  • Construction started on a drug and alcohol residential treatment facility in Northeast Portland.
  • Columbia County Brewing opened a small operation in St. Helens.
  • Green Zebra Grocery announced plans to open a store in Southeast Portland.

None of these new developments rate screaming headlines all by themselves, but they are part of the reason why the number of unemployed people in the region dropped from 76,100 persons in October 2013 to 72,400 in November 2013.

There is no need to prefer small businesses over large businesses. However, we sometimes praise small businesses in the abstract without recognizing them in the flesh — opening new shops and facilities in our own neighborhoods, offering convenient access to products and services.

Job-creation is occurring all around us. It is appropriate as we begin a new year and head into another legislative session not to lose sight of our home-grown entrepreneurs who take the risk and hire people who need jobs.