The financial crisis brought on by the “Too-Big-To-Fail” banks plunged the country into the worst recession since the 1930s. But while the federal government bailed out the nation’s biggest banks and corporations, the rest of the country has been left to fend for itself. Two years, six million foreclosures, and eight million lost jobs later, the financial system is not meeting the needs of America’s working families. We need to do something different, and an Oregon State Bank will tilt the playing field back in the favor of average Oregonians.
Oregon Action supports the concept of a state bank, and is working in coalition with partner organizations on a campaign to bring this issue to the state legislature. The Bank of Oregon is based on a simple premise of putting Oregon’s money to work for Oregonians.
How would an Oregon State Bank work? It would:
- Create a vehicle for getting credit flowing to small businesses and family farmers again by partnering with local financial institutions.
- Move appropriated monies that currently exist in disparate, under-utilized accounts into a single place. This money will be prioritized for use to support local community banks in making loans to Main Street businesses and local family farms.
- Streamline the state’s economic development funds, eliminating wasteful duplication, and consolidating government programs.
- Be managed by individuals with considerable experience in the banking sector, and it will have an advisory board made up of community bankers, small business owners, farmers, and community representatives.
Impact on Communities of Color, Immigrants and Refugees:
Given that it would operate in the public interest, The Bank of Oregon would administer state lending programs that promote economic development in key sectors or regions. The Bank of Oregon could also help grow new industries in Oregon by offering targeted mid-size loans to help foster economic development. The first street car built in the United States was produced recently in Oregon. With billions of dollars being invested into transportation projects, The Bank of Oregon could help expand this industry, which could in turn provide opportunity for communities of color to enter.
There is already a model for this for concept. The State of North Dakota has been successfully operating its own state bank–the Bank of North Dakota–for over 90 years to the exclusive benefit of the citizens of their state.
While the bills working through the legislature won’t create a full fledged State Bank similar to North Dakota’s, they are a great step forward for Oregon as it attempts to cut ties with Wall Street, and focus on Main Street.