When I started my role at the University of Oregon in 2012, a group of Oregon business leaders had recently completed a project to understand the state of capital flows to businesses in Oregon. The group was focused on identifying the gaps that entrepreneurs were encountering in the search for capital to grow a business. That effort was the beginning of what would become a regular engagement of the Lundquist College of Business. Now in the 4th iteration of the report produced by UO, we’ve broken some new ground and offered new data for the community to understand what’s happening in Oregon’s capital landscape.
The work of a university is the creation and dissemination of knowledge. Through research efforts, teaching, and engagement with their community, a college or university can have a profound impact on the economy and culture of a region, nation, and world. It’s an honor to be a part of the University of Oregon and play just a small part in our greater impact. While this report doesn’t answer all possible questions about capital flows in Oregon, it does serve as a starting point for those interested in digging deeper into the flows of capital to businesses in Oregon. In each iteration of the Capital Scan from 2014 to 2020, the focus of the project has been to illuminate data that is not otherwise easily accessible. The research and analysis also seek to provide insights into the opportunities and challenges for businesses in Oregon seeking outside capital through loans, grants, crowdfunding, equity investments, and other programs to grow their firms, employment base, and the Oregon economy.
The Capital Scan is just that; a scan of the landscape of capital resources firms can access to start, launch, and grow.
While broad in coverage of capital types, this report does not dig deep into the questions which many stakeholders may have about economic, social, or racial disparities of capital flows and access.
Such detailed analysis is the domain of a different type of research by more appropriate investigators and organizations. What the 2020 Oregon Capital Scan can offer is a look into the activities of Oregon’s economy in the relative stability of 2018–2019, the adaptation to the different world of 2020, and a measurement of activities that can be used to calibrate how Oregon’s businesses and capital resources evolve in the coming years.
The data for the 2020 Oregon Capital Scan covers a very interesting timeframe. On the usual cadence of the biennial report, data gathering is focused on the 2018–2019 timeframe. This reflects the reality that most of the data sources have three to six-month reporting lag times. The typical data from SBA Lending, SBIR/STTR Grants, commercial bank lending, and other sources represent the relative calm and prosperity of 2018–2019. However, as with so many things, 2020 has been different. While production of the report started in May 2020, the CARES Act was just coming into view. Subsequent programs such as Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans and grants, and many other new sources of capital entered the mix. As reporting on the first rounds of the PPP became available in late November 2020 those data are included in the report this year.
In contrast to those PPP data which represent lifelines for struggling businesses across all sectors of the economy and in every corner of the state, the 2020 Capital Scan also covers private equity investments in the form of angel investments and venture capital data over the 2018 to 2020 period. These investments typically focus on growth opportunities in firms building for the future. The data for this report comes from the leading source of private company transaction data, PitchBook. The University of Oregon team will be delivering a more detailed analysis of
The 2020 report includes a wider view of capital resources than previous reports.
Included for the first time is data reflecting credit union business lending in Oregon. This shows how local credit unions have had a strong presence across all regions of Oregon, putting local member assets to work supporting local businesses. The role of Oregon’s cities and counties is also well documented in the 2020 report. Direct research by student analysts produced a comprehensive census of grant and loan programs across the state. Finally, the 2020 Oregon Capital Scan includes data required by the Community Reinvestment Act reported by the largest national banks for their activities lending to Oregon based firms.
As with any good research effort, it’s not the questions you answer, but the questions you leave unanswered and the research that follows you that gives the work value over time. Citations are the coin of the academic realm and my hope is that readers and users of this report seek more answers than we can offer here. The 2020 Oregon Capital Scan will be truly successful if it inspires others to ask the important questions necessary to understand capital flows even better.