By editorial board • 

Recession creates opportunity to promote start-ups

The May employment report for Yamhill County released this week shows relatively no change from April, with more than 7,000 people seeking work. That’s not surprising, given the ongoing turmoil caused by COVID-19 business restrictions as the country (and world) starts its journey through another recession. The report is far from encouraging, however, given the amount of federal CARES money distributed locally through the Paycheck Protection Program.

The fact is, many of those jobs will not return, despite many efforts underway at the local level by government and business organizations to support and save small businesses.

While that assistance is key to preventing further job loss in the county, local leaders must also pursue ways to help new businesses be created. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Out of adversity comes opportunity.”

The Great Recession of 2007-09 caused havoc to the global community. But one silver lining of that economic downturn — and many before that — was an increase of entrepreneurship. One study reported a 17 percent increase in entrepreneurship from 2006 to 2009. Another noted that business created out of necessity increased from 16 to 28 percent of total entrepreneurship during that time. That study also reported that entrepreneurship in rural areas held steady, despite research from previous downturns showing those areas lacked resources for successful business creation.

One local example of such a success story is Solid Form Fabrication in McMinnville, launched by brothers Keath and Deven Paolo in 2007. Their story represents a change in the manufacturing industry that occurred during the Great Recession. A recent article by Matthew Wagner of the National Main Street Center notes how, over the past decade, decreased costs and increased access to equipment, logistics and e-commerce have lowered the barriers for small-scale producers. The manufacturing sector is down 500 jobs compared to last year. Consider that as 500 skilled workers and 500 potential start-ups. 

With thousands of jobs not likely to return anytime soon, it’s imperative for local agencies and business groups to further encourage and support entrepreneurship in Yamhill County. The promising news is we have a great organizational infrastructure to accomplish that. With assistance from the likes of our area Chambers of Commerce, the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership, the Chehalem Valley Innovation Accelerator, the county-contracted economic development group SEDCOR and others, there are dozens of success stories ready to be created immediately.

While no one could have predicted such a pandemic-induced hardship on our local economy, it may turn out that the Yamhill County business community was preparing for it all along.  



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