Cantwell to visit Vancouver on Wednesday, focus on small businesses

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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Sen. Maria Cantwell will host a field hearing of the Senate Small Business Committee at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Vancouver City Hall, 415 W. Sixth St.

The U.S. senator from Washington, a Democrat, was appointed chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship in February. She says she wants to hear from small-business owners across the state on “critical issues to small business growth, including innovation, access to capital and export opportunities.” Cantwell will also visit the Tri-Cities, Seattle, Snohomish County and Spokane as part of her weeklong tour.

The Vancouver hearing will be the Senate committee’s first field hearing under Cantwell’s leadership. The theme of the session will be “Capital Access for Main Street: Meeting Opportunities of Growth along the Lower Columbia.” The committee will take testimony from Southwest Washington small-business owners, lenders and economic development leaders about their challenges and successes in getting loans for local business expansion.

Speakers in the listening session will include Amy O’Hara, co-owner of When the Shoe Fits, a Vancouver-based fitness retailer that used Small Business Association-based loans to expand from one to four stores; Gregg Swanson, vice president and chief lending officer at Evergreen Business Capital; Craig Chance, senior vice president of community financial resources for Columbia Bank; Mike Bomar, president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council; and Eric Sawyer, an executive of Barrett Business Services Inc. and a board member of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.

Cantwell notes that Southwest Washington’s recovery has been slower than that of the larger Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region.

The public is invited to attend and to submit comments for the committee’s record.