Small Business Valentine: The Heart of the State's Economy

Release Date: 
Friday, February 14, 2014
Release Number: 
Advisory Date: 
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Advisory Number: 
Kellie Randall (503) 326-5200

PORTLAND, Ore.  – Small Businesses are the heart of Oregon’s economy, and the U.S. Small Business Administration is sending them this Valentine with the reasons to love them.


Ten Reasons to be Sweet on Oregon Small Business


1. Small businesses make up 97.6 percent of all Oregon employers.


2. Small businesses create more than 46 percent of the American nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).


3. Of high patenting firms (15 or more in a four-year period), small patenting firms produce 16 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms.


4. The 346,072 small businesses in Oregon are located in every community and neighborhood.


5. Small businesses employ 55.5 percent of Oregon’s private sector workers.


6. Home-based businesses account for 52 percent of all small businesses.


7. Small businesses are 98 percent of America’s exporters and produce 33 percent of all export value.


8. Oregon saw an estimated 56,740 new small firms start-up during 2012.


9. There are more than 700 minority-owned businesses and 1,244 women-owned businesses registered in Oregon.


10. The latest figures show that small business creates 64 percent or more of America’s net new jobs.


Gingerbread Traditions will be ensuring many Portlanders have a sweet Valentine’s Day. Cheryl Albers got started making gingerbread houses at Christmas for friends and family. Now, 15 years later Cheryl is settled in a 5,000 square foot space with six employees.


Over the years Cheryl has morphed her seasonal business into a year round affair. Through developing new products like Valentine cabins, chocolate gingerbread pirate ships and sugar cookie princess castles and contracting with local schools to produce cookies, the demand for Gingerbread Traditions continues to grow.


When Cheryl heard about the SBA’s Emerging Leaders Initiative, she thought it seemed like a great way to figure out what was next for Gingerbread Traditions. Despite having a degree in business and years of experience, Cheryl thought it was time for her to actually step back and work on her business.


The Emerging Leaders Initiative is a federal training program that specifically focuses on executives of businesses poised for growth. The initiative provides these executives with the organizational framework, resource network, and motivation required to build sustainable businesses and promote economic development within urban communities.


Cheryl’s efforts at working on the business are paying off. In the fall, Gingerbread Traditions fulfilled their biggest wholesale order yet, 80 pallets, which were sent to a chain of hotels across the country. Gingerbread Traditions is seeing a rapid growth in both new wholesale orders and smaller orders from the public.


“The Emerging Leaders Program really helped me to evaluate my business from the outside,” said Cheryl. “I’m looking at my business differently now, instead of seeing where it will take me, I can’t wait to see where I can take it next.”


Applications for the 2014 Class of Emerging Leaders are being accepted at More details on the program are available at