Editor’s Note

Once a relatively stable two-party setup, the network of Oregon biz organizations is starting to resemble the (fractious) British parliamentary system. 

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Not so long ago, the Oregon business-association landscape was dominated by two organizations: the conservative-leaning Association of Oregon Industries and the more progressive Oregon Business Association. 

Today the mottled landscape features a couple of center right and center left groups, Oregon Business and Industry and the Portland Business Alliance. Both of those groups are undergoing a restructuring of their own.

OBI and PBA are flanked on the left by the progressive leaning Business for a Better Portland (BBPDX) and the Oregon Business Alliance for Climate.

Yet another group, Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce, has sprung up on the right. The group filed incorporation papers in late June, Willamette Week reported.

Earlier this week, BBPDX hosted a summer social hour attracting hundreds of liberal-minded business folk and a smattering of progressive policy makers. The event took place on top of the WeWork building, a location that signals the group’s innovation-oriented outlook.

Related coverage: Businesses divide, merge and multiply

Like the Brits, questions remain whether the various splinter groups in Oregon will be able to form a coalition. Already Nike is breaking with its business brethren. Last week the Beaverton athletic apparel company finagled a deal with union-backed Our Oregon to keep a corporate disclosure measure off the ballot.

The fracturing of the business network might suggest a chaotic reign ahead.  Not necessarily.  Business organizations may be leaving the fold, but the plethora of new groups shows how flexible and nimble the private sector can be as the policy and market landscape changes.

For all practical purposes, businesses have created a parallel system of political representation that labor groups and lawmakers will have to contend with just as 2018 election battles — over taxes, partisan control of the Legislature and governor’s mansion, environmental issues —  are really starting to heat up.