Oregon Startups: What would you ask the next governor of Oregon?

I think it’s important to realize that we’ll be electing a new governor for the state of Oregon in 2010. And it’s highly likely that whomever wins that seat will be having a significant impact on the startups you’re creating.

[HTML1]While it’s still early in the race, I think it’s important to realize that we’ll be electing a new governor for the state of Oregon in 2010. And it’s highly likely that whomever wins that seat will be having a significant impact on the startups you’re creating.

Given that you’re building the business you always wanted to build, we want to make sure you’ve got the best environment for doing that. So we should make sure that you’re getting the kind of information you need to make the right voting decision, right? Right.

Let’s do that shall we?

I mean, we just got into that discussion about taxes in Oregon. That was pretty damn interesting. But I think we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface.

You startup types are a smart bunch. And you should get answers to the issues that are bothering you.

What should the next governor be considering? What issues do you have questions about? Where can the state work to help the entrepreneurs around here? Should the governor be thinking about embracing open data and open source the way Portland did?

There are any number of questions we could ask. I mean, we could go on and on and on.

So here’s the deal. I have a little free time. And you—I’m guessing—have some pretty awesome questions for our would-be governors. So why don’t we get those out on the table, and we’ll see if we can get those answered for all of us?

Sound good? Good.

Please submit your questions below. Feel free to make them about anything you feel needs to be answered. Then, we’ll let people vote the best questions to the top.

I’ll approach the various gubernatorial camps with the questions and we’ll see if we can get them answered. Who knows? I might get brutally rebuffed. But I have to think that—if enough of you are asking amazing questions—we’re likely to get the chance to get some of them answered.

Or maybe, just maybe, some of the candidates will show up here and exhibit a little of their potential gubernatorial social media prowess.

In any case, it will be an interesting experiment—and a means of finding the candidates who understand and appreciate Oregon startups.

So what do you think? What questions would you like to ask the next governor of Oregon?

(Image courtesy functoruser. Used under Creative Commons.)

  1. Helping entrepreneurs get through the very early fundraising stage is an important part of the ‘startup/job creation funnel’. Friends and Family funding is typically the primary funding source (outside of self-funding) prior to getting enough traction for the typical angel investor or funds like OAF. I would like to see how the candidates would make it easier for legitimate startups to get through the initial fundraising phases. For example, Oregon limits the number of unaccredited investors to 10 people in any 12 month period. Washington allows 20. Given that F&F investors are not typically investing large amounts of money but are the most likely to invest based on knowing the entrepreneur personally, having only 10 slots available does not give much headroom for raising F&F money. Add employees working for equity into the mix and it becomes very challenging to stay compliant with securities laws without incurring significant legal fees. There are other hurdles everyone goes through that the state could make easier to navigate… So to reiterate the question, “What would you do as governor to make it easier for entreprenuers to startup companies in Oregon?”

  2. Good points, Eva. The big, big question I’d ask candidates is what will you be doing to help the State elevate its stature as one of the best places in the country to build new companies? Specifically, what will you do to help bridge the gap in early stage investments that help entrepreneurs get going with their ideas?

  3. Oregon is a state of small businesses. Statewide, 90% of employers are small businesses. Oregon is also a state whose citizens place a high value on quality of life, which is one of the many reasons we do not have a strong base of venture capital here.

    What we lack is a base of funding for start-ups who are looking for working capital or assistance with cash flow. The SBA used to have such a program, but it has been defunct for years. Creating such a fund would be a huge boon for Oregon. It would mean Oregonians are investing in Oregon businesses. I would speculate that give the importance of social capital in the state, the repayment rate would be fairly high. It would also be yet another way Oregon distinguishes itself.

    Given the economic distribution of the state, I think the kind of revolving fund I am talking about really belongs at the state level. And, while I don’t want to put PERS money at risk, but the fact public money is invested in California and not Oregon seems problematic to me.

  4. Oregon is caught in an educational downward spiral. Because of the funding issues created by Ballot Measures 5, 47 & 50, we are starving our educational system. I consistently hear complaints about Portland’s educational system, but it is really a state issue.

    One of the very few upsides of the housing crisis is that for the first time in recent memories, people’s property taxes are rising while the values of their houses are dropping. I see this as an opportunity to start a dialogue about revisiting our tax structure. Sales taxes are still the third rail in Oregon, but I do think Oregonians can be convinced to redirect funding to K-12 education.

    It is extremely hard for a politician running for office to take on such a controversial issue in their campaign. But in Oregon, I think if managed correctly, can help put someone in the Governor’s office.

  5. Dear Prospective Governor:

    What is your opinion of higher education in Oregon?

    Would you increase funding of state universities and colleges, and if so, how do you propose to pay for the increases?

    Also, according to The Tax Foundation, Oregon is a “donor state”, receiving 95 cents in federal spending for every dollar collected in taxes. What as governor would you do to improve this ratio?

  6. I would like to ask the candidates what they think about the fact that currently there is a copyright on the Attorney General’s Public Records and Meetings Manual?

  7. @Allen Thanks for listening in! We’ll work on gathering some thought-provoking questions. 😉

    @Garrett Thanks for kicking off the questions!

  8. Wow, this is great that you already got one candidate on board Rick. I guess I’ll just kick us off by asking, “What forms of new/social media are best for getting citizens involved in local politics? While social media does greatly increase intercommunication and visibility on a personal level, sometimes a rather complicated political issue gets dumbed-down or ridden with rumors once the news hits the internets.”

  9. Rick, I can assure you, you will not be rebuffed by our campaign. This sounds like a great idea and using the web for this should be a really good way to get a broad cross section of input. I hope you don’t mind if I eavesdrop on the process. It may give me a little extra time to prepare my answers. I will be especially curious how the ranking of the questions goes. After being the CEO of a technology company I know how thoughtful and thought provoking the questions will be.

    Looking forward to participating.


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