Starting a Business in Oregon – A Comprehensive Guide

How to Start a Business in Oregon

Oregon, also known as the Beaver State, is renowned for its diverse economy and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. This blog post will offer invaluable insights and guidance if you have a business idea and want to launch in Oregon. We will explore the business environment in Oregon by looking at the advantages and challenges, funding options, and state legal framework.

You will be in good company when staring a business in Oregon - city skylineTop Two Benefits of Starting a Business in Oregon:

  1. Rich Innovation Ecosystem:  Oregon boasts a flourishing ecosystem that encourages innovation. With numerous tech startups, the state offers a vibrant community, rich networking opportunities, and a wealth of resources for new businesses. Portland, the state’s largest city, is especially known as a hub for tech and green startups.
  2. Access to Venture Capital:  Oregon startups have a strong track record of securing venture capital. According to the National Venture Capital Association, Oregon ranks impressively in venture capital investments per capita. This access to funding can significantly benefit new businesses seeking capital to launch and grow.

Top Two Challenges When Starting a Business in Oregon:

  1. Business Costs:  Despite the state’s many advantages, starting a business in Oregon can be relatively costly. The cost of living in cities like Portland is higher than the national average, which could impact everything from office rentals to salaries.
  2. State Taxes:  Unlike Nevada, Oregon has a corporate tax structure that entrepreneurs must navigate. The state has one of the country’s highest personal income tax rates, which can affect the overall profitability of businesses, particularly for those structured as pass-through entities.

These insights are specific to Oregon’s business landscape and provide a realistic picture of what entrepreneurs can expect when starting a business there. By understanding these benefits and challenges, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions and position your business for success.

Regulatory Factors and Taxes in Oregon

Understanding Oregon’s regulatory environment and tax structures is essential to setting up your business successfully in the state. Oregon imposes a corporate income tax, which varies depending on the type and size of your business. Oregon imposes a corporate income tax rate ranging from 6.60 percent to 7.60 percent and also has a gross receipts tax. However, the state does not enforce a state sales tax or any local sales taxes.. This progressive tax structure means that the more revenue your business generates, the higher your tax rate be subject to.

Oregon is one of the few states that does not have a sales tax, making it an attractive location for businesses that sell goods to consumers. This can be a significant advantage for retailers or e-commerce businesses, as it simplifies their sales tax collection and remittance procedures.

In addition to the corporate income tax, businesses in Oregon are subject to other forms of taxation. The state imposes an excise tax on certain companies, such as those dealing in alcohol, tobacco, and motor fuel. Furthermore, businesses may be subject to property taxes, which vary by county.

How do I Choose a Business Structure?

There are five primary types of businesses. Each type of business entity is described below.

Sole Proprietorship

A business owned and operated by one individual with no legal distinction between the business and the owner. The owner is personally responsible for all debts and liabilities of the business. Most small business owners in  Oregon use this business type.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

A flexible business organization that combines the liability protection of a corporation with the tax benefits and simplicity of a partnership. Owners of an LLC are called members, and their assets are typically protected from the debts and liabilities of the business. You have the flexibility to define many aspects of how your business will work in your Articles of Organization.


A type of corporation allows for pass-through taxation, meaning that profits and losses are passed through to the shareholders and reported on their tax returns. S-Corporations are limited to 100 shareholders and must meet specific eligibility requirements. An S-Corp can be particularly advantageous if the founders or investors have other income. If the business doesn’t generate a profit in any year, the shareholders can use the losses from a tax perspective.


A separate legal entity from its owners (shareholders) means that the corporation can enter into contracts, own assets, and sue or be sued. C-Corporations are subject to double taxation, meaning that the corporation and the shareholders are taxed on profits.

A Note About S-Corps and C-Corps

For both S-Corporations and C-Corporations, your business formation documents will include Articles of Incorporation, sometimes called a Corporate Charter.  The specific requirements and format of Articles of Incorporation can vary by jurisdiction. It is advisable to consult with a business attorney or online legal service such as Legal Zoom to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations when drafting and filing these documents.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

A partnership that limits the personal liability of its partners. LLPs are typically used by professional service providers such as lawyers, accountants, and architects. Each partner is protected from the other partners’ wrongful acts, omissions, and negligence, but they may still be personally liable for their actions.

Distribution of Businesses

Business Type Percent of Businesses in  Oregon
Sole Proprietorship 50-55%
Limited Liability Company (LLC) 20-25%
S-Corporation 10-12%
C-Corporation 5-7%
Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) 2-5%

The distribution may vary depending on the industry and location within the state. It’s best to consult a legal advisor or local business expert to obtain the most accurate and up-to-date information.

What is an Employer Identification Number – EIN?

Definition of an EIN or Employer Identification Number

In the United States, businesses are assigned a unique nine-digit identifier known as the Employer Identification Number (EIN) by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This number, also called the Federal Tax Identification Number or the Federal Employer Identification Number, simplifies business tax administration.

Do I Need One to Start a Business in Oregon?

Getting an EIN is important if you’re starting a business in Oregon. This number is necessary when creating a business, hiring workers, getting licenses, or opening a business bank account.

How Do I Get One?

If you need to obtain an EIN, you have two options. You can apply online through the IRS website or submit Form SS-4 by mail or fax. The online method is fast and easy, providing an EIN immediately. If you need further assistance or information, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 or visit their website at .

How to Start a Business in Oregon – Important Registrations

Registering My Business Name

The first step for entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Oregon is registering their business name with the Oregon Secretary of State’s Corporation Division. This critical step establishes the legitimacy of your business within the state. You can contact the office at (503) 986-2200 or visit their website at .

Registering a DBA (Doing Business As) If Relevant

If your business operates under a name different from its legally registered name, you must register an Assumed Business Name (ABN) with the Secretary of State’s Corporation Division. Oregon has 36 counties, each with specific regulations and government services.

Additional information can be found at , which can assist businesses in understanding local rules and requirements.

Registering for Payroll, State Payroll Taxes, and Unemployment Insurance

To manage state payroll taxes and unemployment insurance, business owners need to set up an account with the Oregon Employment Department. Visit their website at  or contact them at (503) 947-1394.

Registering for Worker’s Compensation Insurance

In Oregon, businesses must secure workers’ compensation insurance. You can obtain this insurance from a certified provider. You can acquire this insurance from a licensed provider. If you use a  payroll service , they should also be able to provide worker’s comp.

Registering for State Income Tax

Oregon imposes a state corporate income tax. Businesses must register for this tax via the Oregon Department of Revenue. Visit their website at  or call them at (503) 378-4988 for more information.

Registering to Pay Property Tax

If you have any questions regarding property tax in Oregon, it is recommended that you contact the assessor’s office in your local county.

Permits for Starting a Business in Oregon

The state capitol building of Oregon, where regulations and programs for starting a business happenDo I Need a Business Permit to Operate a Business in  Oregon?

At the State Level:  Some businesses may need a state-level permit or license to operate legally in Oregon. This is commonly required for certain professions or industries regulated at the state level. The Oregon Secretary of State’s Corporation Division provides a useful online tool for checking state-level license requirements, accessible on their website:

Check With Your City:  You may require a local business license or permit depending on your city. Each city has its own unique set of requirements and procedures. For instance, if you’re setting up a business in Portland, you must check with the Portland Revenue Division at their website:  or call (503) 823-5157.

Check Federal Requirements.  If your business is subject to federal regulations, you may need specific permits or licenses. For instance, if you work in the aviation industry, you should consult the Federal Aviation Administration. To see a comprehensive list of federal licenses and permits, visit the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website at .

Check With Your County:  Depending on your business type and location, you might require county-specific permits or licenses in Oregon. Every county has its own unique set of regulations. For example, if your business is based in Multnomah County, you can find more about their specific requirements on their website at .

They can be reached at 503-823-4000 for inquiries. Check with your local county office to understand the complete scope of necessary permits and licenses for your business.

How do I learn about any special permits I need for my business?

If you are still trying to figure out the permits your business might need, several resources are available to guide you. The Oregon Business Xpress License Directory ( ) is an excellent place to start. This comprehensive database contains state, county, and city licensing information.

Additionally, connecting with a local SCORE chapter ( ) can be beneficial. SCORE is a nonprofit organization that provides mentorship and education to entrepreneurs. Their volunteers, experienced business professionals, can guide you through identifying and obtaining necessary permits for your business.

The Oregon Entrepreneurs Network ( ) can also be of help. They offer resources, events, and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs at various stages, which could provide information about industry-specific permits.

Financing Options for Entrepreneurs in Oregon

Entrepreneurs in Oregon have various funding options to explore when starting a business. While personal assets and credit cards are often tapped into initially, these methods may not be sustainable for long-term business growth. Therefore, entrepreneurs must research and consider other forms of financing that offer the potential for more considerable capital and less personal risk.

Financing a New Business

A business’s survival and growth largely hinge on its access to credible funding sources. Alongside self-funding options, companies can leverage diverse funding streams such as grants, venture capital investments, and angel investors. Grants, typically non-repayable funds disbursed by government departments, corporations, or foundations, can significantly boost startups. On the other hand, venture capitalists and angel investors provide funding in exchange for equity in the company. These investors bring in capital and often offer industry connections, mentorship, and business expertise. Doing thorough research to understand the best options for your business type, industry, and growth stage is vital.

SBA Loans and Microloans

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a key resource for startups and small businesses, offering several loan programs tailored to their needs. One such initiative is the Microloan Program. Microloans are small, short-term loans designed to assist with various business needs, providing immediate access to capital. These loans can be particularly beneficial for businesses in their early stages or those needing a small cash influx. More information about the SBA’s microloan program can be found at .

SBA Microlenders in Oregon

Below are some SBA microlenders specific to Oregon:

Mercy Corps Northwest

43 SW Naito Parkway, Portland, OR 97204

Phone: (503) 896-5070


Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon

4008 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97212

Phone: (503) 505-7314


Community LendingWorks

212 Main St, Springfield, OR 97477

Phone: (541) 345-0446


Craft3 203 Howerton Way,

Ilwaco, WA 98624

Phone: (888) 231-2170


State and Local Grants and Incentives

Oregon offers a variety of state and local grants and incentives designed to stimulate small business growth and economic development. Each grant or incentive program has unique criteria, so exploring each is essential to identify suitable opportunities for your business.

Angel Investor Groups

Angel investor groups present a pivotal funding source for businesses, particularly startups in Oregon. These groups consist of high-net-worth individuals who pool their resources to invest in promising business ventures, often in their early stages. One key benefit of angel investor groups is their potential for substantial capital infusion. With their pooled resources, these groups can provide the large initial investment that many startups need to develop their products, scale their operations, and reach their target markets.

Beyond financial investment, angel investor groups can also provide invaluable intangible assets. Many angel investors have successful entrepreneurial backgrounds, and they can offer strategic advice, industry insights, and expansive networks to assist the growth of your business. This can be especially beneficial in a state like Oregon, where specific industries, such as tech, healthcare, and renewable energy, have seen significant growth. Having an industry insider can aid the navigation of these sectors’ complexities, provide market validation, and foster key industry connections.

Finding angel investor groups in Oregon can be accomplished through various means. Networking remains one of the most effective methods. Attending industry conferences, local business meetups, or events hosted by organizations like the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network can provide opportunities to meet potential investors. Online platforms, such as AngelList and Gust, also offer a way to connect with angel investor groups. Additionally, consider contacting business development centers or local university entrepreneurship programs, as they often connect with the local investment community. When approaching these potential investors, be prepared to pitch your business idea convincingly with a solid business plan and a clear understanding of your market.

Benefits of a Well-Structured Business Plan

A well-structured business plan is an indispensable tool for Oregon entrepreneurs. Firstly, it acts as a roadmap, detailing the direction, defining what the business should look like, and outlining the steps necessary to get there. It allows business owners to establish specific objectives, develop strategies, allocate resources efficiently, and measure performance against benchmarks. This is particularly crucial in Oregon, where diverse industries and business environments require strategic navigation.

Secondly, having a well-crafted business plan can help Oregon businesses to attract essential funding. The state offers numerous funding opportunities, from state-sponsored grants to local angel investor groups. These organizations and individuals often require a comprehensive business plan that demonstrates a clear vision, sound financial projections, and a viable strategy for growth. A business plan becomes a communication tool that can effectively convince potential lenders or investors of the worthiness of your business proposition.

Oregon business owners can ensure a well-executed business plan by leveraging local resources such as the Oregon Small Business Development Center Network (OSBDCN) and other business mentoring services. These organizations often provide services like business plan writing assistance, which can prove invaluable to new and established entrepreneurs.

Meeting Lender and Investor Expectations

Meeting lender and investor expectations is crucial for any business seeking external funding. The importance of this can’t be understated, as it secures necessary capital and builds trust, potentially leading to future investment opportunities.

In Oregon, a diverse range of funding options requires businesses to tailor their approach according to the specific expectations of lenders or investors. Banks and traditional lenders, for example, often require detailed financial histories and projections, collateral, and a strong credit score. In contrast, venture capitalists or angel investors may be more interested in the innovative potential and scalability of the business, as well as the passion and commitment of the founder(s).

To meet these expectations, businesses should craft a comprehensive and convincing business plan, maintain open and transparent communication, and demonstrate a strong understanding of the market and competitive landscape. Furthermore, willingness to accept advice and adapt is essential, as investors often bring more than just capital, offering valuable industry connections and strategic guidance.

Where Can I Find a Mentor to Help Me Succeed?

A mentor can be an invaluable asset for entrepreneurs in Oregon, offering a wealth of experience, industry insights, and practical strategies tailored to the state’s business environment. Thankfully, Oregon is home to various organizations and resources dedicated to supporting its vibrant entrepreneurial community. Here are a few worth exploring:

Oregon SCORE:  As part of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Oregon SCORE offers accessible business mentoring services. They also provide affordable workshops, resources, and tools to support businesses at every development stage.

Phone: (503) 326-3441


Oregon Women’s Business Center:  This organization specifically caters to women entrepreneurs, offering business development training, personalized counseling, and networking opportunities.


Invent Oregon:  Dedicated to advocating for Oregon’s entrepreneurial community, Invent Oregon provides learning opportunities and helps forge connections to drive business growth and success.



By utilizing these resources, entrepreneurs can gain the essential knowledge and support needed to navigate Oregon’s business landscape successfully. It’s about leveraging the power of collective wisdom and experience to make the most out of your business journey in Beaver State.

The Economy of Oregon

Understanding the economy of Oregon is essential when considering starting a business in the state. Its economic health and trends are crucial in determining the business’s success and profitability. Oregon’s economy has a unique blend of various industries, including technology, forestry, agriculture, and more, shaping residents’ income levels, education, and consumer spending habits.

Economic Overview

Average Household Income

The average household income in Oregon stands at approximately $71,562. This figure is slightly below the national average but indicates a steady income. Potential business owners must consider this as it impacts the purchasing power of Oregon residents and thus, the business profitability.

Average Level of Education

The education level in Oregon is fairly high, which is typically correlated with higher income levels and consumer spending. Around 90.8% of Oregon residents aged 25 and over have completed high school, and approximately 33.7% hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. These numbers signify a well-educated population, which can benefit businesses, especially those in technology and professional services.

Consumer Spending per Capita

Oregon’s consumer spending per capita stands at approximately $47,779. This figure suggests a robust consumer market with residents willing to spend on goods and services. However, it’s important to note that this number can vary depending on the sector and the specific demographic of the consumer base.

To conclude, starting a business in Oregon requires understanding the state’s economy, the income levels of households, education levels, and consumer spending habits. These factors can significantly influence the success of your business. Knowing these elements will enable you to make informed decisions about your business model, target audience, pricing strategies, and more.

Top Industries in Oregon:

Oregon's economy is diverse and robust with opportunity for starting a businessOregon’s economy is diverse and robust, with several key industries driving its growth. One of the significant contributors to Oregon’s GDP is the technology sector, popularly referred to as the “Silicon Forest.” The state is home to more than 4,000 tech companies, with Intel, the state’s largest private employer, leading the pack. The tech industry in Oregon, which primarily includes semiconductor and electronic component manufacturing, generated over $43 billion in 2022.

The second key industry is manufacturing, which contributes to more than 27% of the state’s output and employs about 11% of the workforce. The manufacturing sector includes food processing, paper products, machinery, and fabricated metal products. As of 2021, the gross output of Oregon’s manufacturing industry stood at approximately $75 billion.

Healthcare and social assistance is another substantial industry in Oregon, employing over 240,000 people, accounting for almost 15% of the state’s employment. The industry has shown steady growth over the past decade, with a significant increase in healthcare facilities and services.

Oregon is also known for its robust agricultural sector. The state is a significant producer of hazelnuts, accounting for 99% of the U.S. production. Oregon’s diverse climate also supports a variety of other crops, including wine grapes, hops, berries, and nursery products. Agriculture and its related industries contribute about $50 billion to Oregon’s economy annually.

Emerging industries in Oregon include renewable energy and outdoor apparel. The state has abundant natural resources harnessed for renewable energy production, particularly wind and solar. Oregon’s outdoor apparel industry, led by companies like Columbia Sportswear and Nike, is also growing rapidly. Looking ahead, the future outlook for business in Oregon is positive, with these established and emerging industries continuing to provide diverse opportunities for entrepreneurship.

Network Your Way to Success When Starting a Business

Networking is a skill that most successful business owners have as one of their top talents. You can do it too! Networking is a great way to improve your success and grow your personal and business reputation. Here are a few ways to get started.

Identify Complementary Businesses:  Complementary businesses can form strategic alliances, share resources, and co-market their products or services. This collaboration reduces competition and increases market reach and the potential customer base.

Leverage Workforce Talent:   Leveraging talent is also a critical aspect of doing business in Oregon. The state is home to several renowned universities and technical institutions, providing a steady flow of skilled graduates yearly. Businesses can benefit from this pool of talent to drive innovation and growth.

Collaborate with Industry Leaders:  Finally, collaborating with industry leaders can help new businesses learn from established practices and avoid common pitfalls. Industry leaders often set the pace for business trends, and staying in sync with them can provide a competitive edge. Collaborations can take many forms, including mentorship programs, joint ventures, or even simple networking events.

Workforce and Talent

Knowing Oregon’s demographics, workforce, and talent pool is paramount for businesses intending to set up shop in the state. This information determines the availability of a skilled workforce and influences decisions on product development, marketing, and sales strategy tailored to the local audience.

Unemployment Rate

As of early 2023, Oregon’s unemployment rate stands at 3.7%. This figure indicates that the state’s economy is healthy, and potential employment opportunities exist for those entering the job market. However, due to the lower unemployment rate, businesses should also be prepared for competition in attracting top talent.

Minimum Wage

Oregon’s current minimum wage is $13.20 per hour. This is higher than the federal minimum wage, indicating the state’s commitment to ensuring a living wage for its workers. Businesses must account for this in their financial planning and pricing strategies.

Average Age and Demographics

The median age in Oregon is 39.5 years, with females making up about 50.5% of the population, and males representing around 49.5%. These demographics could influence businesses, especially those in sectors like healthcare, real estate, and consumer goods, which often see different consumption patterns between age groups and genders.

Breakdown of People with Various Levels of Education

The education level of the population is another important demographic

  • 33% hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • 91% have a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • 9% have no high school diploma.

In conclusion, Oregon boasts a diverse and skilled workforce that presents both opportunities and challenges for businesses. Careful planning and strategy can enable businesses to effectively capitalize on the state’s human resources.

Top Areas of Skilled Workers for Residents of Oregon

Oregon’s economy boasts a diverse range of thriving industries, offering opportunities to a broad spectrum of skilled workers. The top sectors where qualified professionals are most in-demand align with the state’s most vibrant industries.

The technology sector, anchored by the Silicon Forest in the Portland metropolitan area, is a major employer in Oregon. This thriving tech hub, featuring global giants like Intel and a host of dynamic start-ups, creates a significant demand for engineers, software developers, and IT specialists. But it’s about more than just coders and hardware experts; there are also opportunities for skilled professionals in the technology sector in sales, marketing, human resources, and project management.

Manufacturing is another sector that employs a significant portion of Oregon’s skilled workforce. The state has a diverse manufacturing base including metals, machinery, chemical products, and electronic and computer equipment. Highly experienced technicians, engineers, and quality control specialists are in demand in this industry.

Healthcare, an evergreen industry, always needs a variety of skilled professionals in Oregon. Nurses, doctors, medical technicians, and non-clinical roles like healthcare administrators and billing specialists find a robust job market in the state.

Agriculture is a traditional yet significant part of Oregon’s economy, renowned for its wine, craft beer, and organic produce. There are opportunities for various skilled workers, from agricultural scientists and technicians to operations and supply chain professionals.

Oregon’s commitment to sustainability has also led to the growth of the renewable energy sector. Professionals with skills in wind and solar energy, environmental engineering, and sustainability consulting are increasingly in demand.

In addition, Oregon’s love for the outdoors and recreation has fueled the growth of outdoor apparel and equipment companies. Designers, product development specialists, and marketing professionals passionate about the outdoors can find opportunities in these businesses.

In conclusion, Oregon’s top areas of skilled workers reflect the state’s diverse and vibrant economy. Understanding these areas can provide valuable insights for businesses considering a move to Oregon and job seekers looking to align their skills with the state’s most dynamic industries.

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