News outlets across the country are inundating us with reports on Portland's recent fatal stabbing that occurred on a light-rail train, the heroes that stood up to the assailant, and its dodgy legislation past. Despite the recent news stories, Portland, specifically Oregon is a very business friendly state, showing a lot of love to small and medium private companies.
1. Tax Climate
According to the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan research institution, in 2017 Oregon ranked #10 in the U.S. for business friendliness. In fact, the state has maintained a top 10 spot since 2014. For starters, Oregon does not have sales tax. This is great news for retailers, which are the single biggest beneficiary. For many retailers, the majority of their day-to-day expenses are subject to sales tax. (Oregon does however have an excise tax on gasoline, beer, spirits, and cigarettes--I guess we can't have it all.)
Oregon also allows corporate net operating losses to be carried forward for up to 15 years without a cap. That means your business can apply this year's net operating loss to future years' profits and reduce its tax liability.
2. Business Tax Credits and Government Incentives
Oregon has a creative incentive, Oregon Investment Advantage that encourages small and medium businesses to start or locate in selected counties in the state. If you hire as few as 5 full-time employees within an eligible county your business can substantially deduct, if not completely eliminate its state business income tax liability for up to 8 years. For smaller companies this incentive is huge because it allows you to reinvest money back into your company that would have otherwise gone to the government.
Another attractive incentive for small and medium businesses is the Oregon New Market Tax Credit (NMTC,) which delivers below-market-rate investment options to Oregon businesses that invest and revitalize low-income communities. (By the way, nearly half of downtown Portland qualify as low income.) Businesses that are successful securing NMTCs receive a 39 percent tax credit of the total qualified investment over seven years. Oregon's NMTC allocation for 2016 was $203 million dollars.
Oregon has been very deliberate in attracting and retaining small and medium sized businesses across the state. While some states put a large emphasis on large capital investment, Oregon has made it a priority to foster a culture of business friendliness for all companies.