March 2, 2022 – In the final days of the 2022 session the fate of a local small business’ plans to expand and add family wage jobs lies in the hands of Oregon House legislators. Active Water Sports, a local Canby small business located in Pioneer Industrial Park, could have its expansions plans haltered thanks to Senate Bill 1589, which passed the Senate last month and is being seriously considered by the House in the final days of the session.
The company filed plans with the Canby planning commission last fall to significantly expand its service center operations by almost 40 percent. During the construction phase, which was supposed to kick off this spring, the 11,000 square foot addition will generate $2.5 million in economic impact for local construction companies and suppliers. Once fully operational the added space would allow Active Water Sports to triple its jobs it offers in Canby – primarily service technicians who make livable salaries with full benefits. The facility would also help the company to offer a wider range of services to the community in a timelier manner and double the number of boats it can service annually.
“I can’t impress upon our elected officials enough how dire the impacts will be to Oregon small businesses,” said Matt Radich, President of Active Water Sports. “If this bill passes, we will have an immediate and drastic loss in revenue that will lead to both layoffs of existing workers and a substantial loss of tax revenue to the state. I am urging our legislators to support Oregon families and small businesses by voting no on this legislation. We can work together to come up with a better solution.”
This bill is being pushed under the guide of environmental protection, yet local experts including fisheries scientist at Mount Hood Environmental and ecosystem restoration engineer David Gorman have testified that these assertions lack merit. Furthermore, the Oregon State Marine Board confirmed with the Legislative Policy and Research Office that they are “not aware of where the 5,000-lb weight-limited proposed in Senate Bill 1589 is derived from.”
Outdoor recreation provided a welcome haven during COVID. For example, Active Water Sports experienced enough sustained success to make the expansion in Canby possible. During the pandemic, the company was able to keep all of their employees. Expanding the business will only increase its ability to provide community members with solid employment. Small businesses like Active Water Sports are only able to expand and stimulate the local economy if they know recreational boating and watersports are not at risk.
Oregon still has not fully recovered from all the jobs lost from COVID. Being a tax-dependent state, the best opportunity to recover from the recession and address other state budget needs, is to get any and all Oregonian businesses back on their feet. Restoring the jobs that have been lost, and even creating new ones, will generate the tax revenue that is needed. The Oregon Business and Industry Association has warned of the state’s overall business tax burden. It now exceeds the national average, and is higher than most surrounding states. Oregon needs the competitiveness and business growth associated with the recreational boating and watersports industries.
Senate Bill 1589 will cause significant economic damage to boat dealers and businesses that depend upon spending by boaters and recreationalists in the Newberg Pool area. As we continue to recover from the COVID pandemic, recreational boating and towed water sports have become an undeniable refuge for countless individuals and families. The Oregon State House should not adopt this misguided legislation, and instead focus on ways the industry can help support our state.