Economy & Business

Economy, Business, Finance & Labor

Karen Richards

The buzz of chainsaws and smell of freshly cut wood in Eugene isn’t only because of recent storms. Thousands of loggers have come to the Lane Events Center for the 76th annual Oregon Logging Conference.

The event is the largest equipment show west of the Mississippi. Organizers are excited to have about 900 registered participants from all over the U.S. as well as several foreign countries. The group’s president, Milt Moran, says an improved economy and a good program helped boost attendance:

Rachael McDonald

It will take time to determine the long-term economic impacts of the extreme weather that hit the region this past week. But there are some immediate effects we can observe.

Monday was the first day many area residents were able to emerge from their homes after two snowstorms and freezing rain caused downed trees, power outages and treacherous road conditions. Dave Hauser, President of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, says a lot of people waited out the storm and businesses and events lost revenue.

Two local manufacturing plants have announced they're closing. Allied Specialty Vehicles Inc. closed its plant at the former Monaco site in Harrisburg Monday. The plant employed 120 people.

Springfield based Sierra-Pine told the Register Guard it will close its particle board plant in April. That company has 87 employees. Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce President Dave Hauser says the closures are a blow to the local economy.

Jes Burns

On February 19th, the 4J school board will decide who should be allowed to purchase Civic Stadium. Three groups are vying for the property: the YMCA, Fred Meyer and the City of Eugene.  4J Superintendent Shelley Berman recommends going with the city’s plan to purchase and restore the historic grandstands and sports field.  Ward 1 City Councilor George Brown has been a vocal proponent of saving Civic Stadium. He tells KLCC’s Tiffany Eckert what will happen if a majority of the 4J board give the city the nod.

A group of land owners in Linn County are mobilizing to fight a proposed fertilizer mixing plant near their homes and farms.  

Salem-based Pratum Co-op wants Linn County to grant a conditional use permit that will allow it to build a fertilizer mixing plant on land zoned Exclusive Farm Use.  The nearly 70-old cooperative provides fuel, fertilizer, and other services to farmers in the Willamette Valley.   

Some neighbors of the proposed plant are not happy

thriftynorthwestmom.com

Fred Meyer 's proposal to purchase Civic Stadium  for $5. 25 million is one of three being considered by Eugene 4J.  Last week, 4J Superintendent Shelley Berman recommended the District negotiate with the City of Eugene for acceptance of its offer.  We hear from Fred Meyer spokeswoman Melina Merrill:

Melinda Merrill, spokeswoman for Fred Meyer, on its offer to purchase Civic Stadium.

Eugene YMCA

A Eugene YMCA proposal for the purchase of Civic Stadium for  $4.5 million dollars is one of three being considered by Eugene 4J.   Last week ,  4J Superintendent Shelley Berman recommended the District negotiate with the City of Eugene for acceptance of its offer. Here's the reaction of Dave Perez , Eugene YMCA executive director:

Dave Perez, executive director of the Eugene YMCA,  on the  Y's  offer to purchase  Civic Stadium.

Rachael McDonald

There will be a lot of beer to taste at the KLCC Microbrew Festival this Friday and Saturday. But only one of the ales will be poured out of a robot's nose. LagerBot which will be dispensing at the Ninkasi booth at the Brewfest.

Erikson: "I'm Erik Erikson. I'm a software engineer at 3Cinteractive. A company in downtown Eugene."

Davis: "My name's Mark Davis. I'm a managing member over at CodeChops co-working space in Eugene."

The Hazards Of Beer Naming And Other Musings

Feb 5, 2014
Public Domain

It’s beer week here at KLCC, a time when Oregon brewing and beer culture come into focus.

Clever beer names are abundant in the industry.  Some breweries take things a step further, using religiously insensitive or sexualized names.  For example, Polygamy Porter from Utah or “La Tite Pute” or "The Little Slut" from Quebec.  

Oregon Receives Low Grade For Its Housing Market

Feb 3, 2014
oregon newsservice.com

Oregon received a "D" grade for its housing market, according to the Corporation for Enterprise Development. The State's foreclosure rate is higher than the national average, and is considered to be sluggishly pulling out of the mortgage crisis.

Karen Richards

A three-year collaboration between state, county, and local groups has come to fruition in Veneta. First Call Resolution, a growing Oregon-based company, has moved into its new space and is now hiring.

"First call resolution" refers to the company's goal of solving a customer's question within one phone call. Today, the call center received two 50-thousand dollar business development checks, one from the state and one from Lane County.

This is the company's fifth center. President John Stadter says all the locations are in small Oregon communities:

Lane and Douglas County saw some improvement in their jobless rates last month.  In Lane unemployment dropped to 6.9 percent while Douglas County dropped to 10 percent.

Brian Rooney is a regional Labor Economist with the State Employment Department. He says December saw modest job growth, mainly in the service industry.

Greenwillow Grains

When grass seed prices crashed in 2008, a group of Willamette Valley farmers decided to switch part of their production to food crops.  Now, not only are their results successful, but they may be laying the foundation for a different kind of food economy in Oregon.

Oregonlegislature.gov

State Senator Chris Edwards of Eugene authored and passed a bill last year to examine wage inequality in Oregon. He will present the results of the study tonight (Monday).

Senator Edwards believes dealing with income inequality is critical to boosting Oregon's economy. He says the new report is revealing. For example:

Edwards: "Even here in Oregon, women still only earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, for the same work, even though they have the same qualifications."

Rachael McDonald

Oregon truffles don't have the allure or high price-tag of their European cousins and have had a less than stellar reputation in the past. Local food advocates are trying to change that. The founder of the Oregon Truffle Festival says using dogs to search out the underground fungus can improve the quality of the truffles and he's researching ways to make them easier to find. Oregon truffles are gaining cache among chefs.

Rachael McDonald

Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio met with unemployed Lane County residents Wednesday at Worksource Lane in Eugene. He's frustrated with fellow lawmakers who allowed federal extended unemployment benefits to expire between Christmas and New Years.

Congressman DeFazio says in Oregon there are an average of at least 5 unemployed people applying for each open position.

RV Retail Industry Adapting To Changing Demographics

Jan 17, 2014
Desmond O'Boyle

Lane County's RV industry was once thriving, until the Great Recession hit in 2008. Since then, major manufacturers have laid-off thousands of employees, scaled down production, and re-structured ownership. But, the retail industry is starting to see a comeback.

Tack Sale Hopes To Keep 4-H On Track

Jan 17, 2014
KVAL News

Enrollment resumed for Lane County’s 4-H Program in October following a three year hiatus. The return of the *Tack Sale this Saturday (tomorrow/today) seeks to raise funds to keep the program going.

Lane County cut funding to its 4-H Extension Program in 2010. During that time, interested youth had to go to Benton County to participate. Program Coordinator Kate Hammarback says for the past three years, they’ve been gauging interest in bringing 4-H back to Lane County.
 

Amanda Butt

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley spoke to constituents outside Kiva Grocery in Eugene today (Friday) to talk about the country’s income gap. He hopes to fight growing inequalities with a couple of pieces of legislation.

Senator Merkley hopes to raise the federal minimum wage. He says he’s co-sponsoring a bill that would increase it to $10.10 an hour over two years. The law would also include a yearly cost of living increase, which the senator says is critical:

New Rules Slow Foreclosures In 2013

Jan 3, 2014
oregonlive.com

For the forth consecutive month, court foreclosure filings decreased in 20 Oregon counties. The trend was a reflection of activity in 2013, but a swell in foreclosures might be ahead for this year. 

The Oregon Legislature passed changes to judicial foreclosures in August. That slowed down the process for lenders. Eugene based Gorilla Capitol purchases distressed real estate and tracks Oregon's home foreclosure market. CEO John Helmick says the changes include sending out "pre-foreclosure" notices to homeowners.

TripAdvisor.com

Environmentally sustainable or socially conscious companies in Oregon can now register as “Benefit Companies.” On the first day of the new law, the number of companies that enrolled exceeded projections.

Benefit companies, or B-Companies, are for-profit businesses that offer environmental or social benefits. The Oregon legislature passed House bill 2296 last year allowing B-Company registrations to begin January 2. Secretary of State Spokesman Tony Green says Oregon is the only state that allows both corporations and limited liability corporations to register as B-Companies.

City of Eugene

The City of Eugene Budget Committee has come up with six options to cope with a 3 million dollar shortfall anticipated in fiscal year 2015. They're hoping people will join the discussion at a series of public meetings in January.

Laura Illig is Chair of the City of Eugene budget committee. She says they considered a range of options for dealing with the shortfall and were able to narrow down the scenarios to 6.

Oregon's Minimum Wage Set To Increase in 2014

Dec 26, 2013
www.oregon.gov

Nearly 100,000 Oregonians will see an increase in their wages beginning January 1st. Those making the current $8.95 will soon be making $9.10 an hour.

Legislation passed in 2002 matches the State’s minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index. The increase is projected to generate more than $20 million in new economic activity. Charlie Burr is the Communications Director for Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries. He says most small business owners don’t complain about the increase.

Bend Refinancing Saves Tax Payer Dollars

Dec 20, 2013

Bend is taking advantage of lower interest rates to refinance a public works loan and save tax payers dollars. The $10 million loan was originally taken out for two different projects.

The Transportation Improvement and Urban Renewal projects were originally funded by a loan from Bank of the Cascades. With this refinancing, the city expects to save approximately $817,000 over the life of the loan.

The City of Coburg got some bad news Wednesday.

Applesauce producer Materne announced it will not locate its new processing facility in Lane County.  Coburg Mayor Jae Pudewell says the processing facility was expected to bring 230 jobs to the area.

Pudewell: "We're obviously very disappointed.  We were hoping to have them join our community, and I think we could have done good things together.  It's a business decision and I'm sure they're doing what's best for them."

Rachael McDonald

The snow storm and sub-freezing temperatures that hit the South Willamette Valley this month cost the City of Eugene about $125-thousand. Public Works is still cleaning up from the event.

 

Crews were on the job 24 / 7 for 7 days according to Eugene Public Works spokesman Eric Jones. Weather forecasters didn't predict the 8 inches of snow that fell in Eugene Friday December 6th, followed by temperatures that plummeted as low at minus 10. Many streets were covered in ice for a full week. Jones says the costs added up fast.

WA Fish & Wildlife

Oregon crab fishermen are out on their boats bringing in pots brimming with Dungeness crab. The season started at midnight Sunday.

Eugene's Fisherman's Market got its first load of Oregon Dungeness crab Monday afternoon from a boat out of Newport. Owner Ryan Rogers says the crustaceans are plump and tasty. And the shop has been busy.

lease
Tiffany Eckert

Lane County got a new tenant today (Monday). Businessman and former Eugene Mayor Brian Obie entered into a 99-year lease with the county to build a mixed-use development project near 5th Street Public Market. KLCC's Tiffany Eckert attended the signing ceremony on the future site.

Standing across from the Inn at the Fifth he built two years ago, Brian Obie signed the lease. Flanked by Lane County representatives, Obie said his plan to create housing and commercial space for a variety of socioeconomic groups is an important public/private endeavor.

Record Lows Will Mean Higher Utility Bills

Dec 15, 2013
NWCU.com

Last week's record lows will mean higher-than-normal utility bills for Eugene Water and Electric Board customers. The cold also wreaked havoc on plumbing for many residents.

EWEB Public Affairs Manager Lance Robertson says between 70 to 80 percent of homes in the area are heated by electricity. He says EWEB noticed a 30% increase over a five day period compared to average usage.

Robertson: "Whenever temperatures drop to a really extreme temperature, people are going to use more electricity no matter how much insulation they have in their house."

Fast-Food Workers Rally In Oregon

Dec 5, 2013

Multiple cities in Oregon participated in rallies held nationwide Thursday to support pay raises for fast food workers. Similar rallies were held earlier this year. Rob Sisk is with the Service Employees International Union Local 503. He says he hopes union members show up at the rallies.

Sisk: "I think it should attract anybody who is in the philosophy and morals behind the Occupy movement. We need to keep those issues out front and keep going after them, until there's economic justice and parity in this country."

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