Economy & Business

Economy, Business, Finance & Labor

Desmond O'Boyle

About 75 health care workers and union members protested in front of McKenzie Willamette Hospital in Springfield Thursday. The employees have been trying to negotiate a new labor contract since January when the last one expired.

Workers chanted, played drums, and marched around the hospital. Ken Charpie  is a Medical Laboratory Scientist at McKenzie-Willamette. He says the raise employees are slated to receive won’t offset higher health care costs.

Foreclosure Filings Spike In March

Apr 12, 2014

Home foreclosure filings in Oregon spiked last month. Four hundred and seventy four court foreclosures were filed in March compared to 295 in February. According to John Helmick, CEO of Gorilla Capitol, the increase was anticipated.

Helmick: "These are homes that have gone through the required mandatory mediation process, and so now they are able to file the foreclosures because under the new statute you have to go thought this mediation process before you can file the foreclosure."

A Redmond-based concrete company has been barred from any public works contracts for the next three years. The company failed to pay a group of employees a prevailing wage. 

Tom Banse

There will be end-of-season parties at at least nine Northwest ski resorts this weekend (4/12-13). But some other Cascade ski areas will welcome skiers and snowboarders well past Easter. That's thanks to late-season snow that fell at many area resorts. Timing means everything for the bottom line of these resort companies. Correspondent Tom Banse explains how a strong finish doesn't necessarily make up for a late start like we saw this season.

A big turn-out is expected for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference in Eugene. Anthony Johnson is organizing the event this Sunday and Monday. He says the conference is a place for entrepreneurs to learn about business opportunities. He says those extend beyond growing and selling marijuana. Johnson hopes to help professionalize the business.

Angela Kellner

One of downtown Eugene’s unique retailers is going out of business after 23 years of selling mostly fair trade products. KLCC’s Angela Kellner stopped by Greater Goods to find out how the business got started…and why it’s shutting down.

Across from the trendy 5th Street Public Market is a thrift store and Greater Goods.

Step inside and you’re transported to myriad cultures and crafts. Owner Joanie Kleban explains how it all began.

Amanda Butt

Vendors at the Lane County Farmer’s Market say their crops are recovering after the snow and below zero temperatures that hit their fields this winter.

Booths are filled with kale, carrots, and potatoes at the Lane County Farmer’s Market. It’s hard to see that farmers suffered any losses after the winter’s harsh and unusual weather. But the farmers behind the tables and baskets of produce say the cold conditions came with a price.

Richardson: “We had some issues. The cold was harsh on us.”

Says Jack Richardson, the manager of Organic Redneck farm.

Eugene Cascades and Coast Blog

Eugene has made Livability-dot-com's top ten list of Best Downtowns for 2014.

The website points to the transformation of Eugene's center over the past several years from a place with empty pits and vacant buildings to one with housing, theaters, and lots of restaurants and offices. Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy credits the efforts of city staff, residents and a 200 million dollar investment. Piercy says being on a list with cities such as Alexandria, Virginia and Fort Worth, Texas is a nice recognition.

Child Care: The Affordability Trap

Mar 17, 2014

With stay-at-home parents increasingly rare, finding high quality, affordable child care has become a major challenge for many families. A recent report found Oregon has the least-affordable child care in the nation. From Jefferson Public Radio, Liam Moriarty takes a look at the hurdles parents face and how some are coping with the squeeze.

In the predawn dark on a weekday morning, Natasha Hale hustles to get her two rambunctious sons ready for their day. As she pours milk and cereal in the kitchen, Hale talks about her daily schedule, which starts at 5 a.m.

Karen Richards

This week, Eugene is hosting representatives from the International Association of Athletics Federations, track and field's governing body. They are reviewing progress for July's World Junior Championships, being held in the United States for the first time.

Abby Hoffman is a four-time Olympian and a member of the IAAF Council. She says this visit is focused on logistics, such as coordinating with the U of O to house and feed an estimated 1,600 athletes.

Cassandra Profita

At Hampton Lumber's Tillamook sawmill on the North Coast of Oregon, workers are packaging a bundle of freshly milled lumber with plastic and staple guns. The boards look a lot like the rest of the lumber the the mill makes. But they represent a bright spot on an otherwise dismal landscape.

They've been measured and cut specifically for a customer in China. And mill manager Mark Elston says they could be the key not only to keeping the mill open but may even get the mill back up to full capacity for the first time since the U.S. housing market collapsed in 2008.

Jes Burns

Sports tourism is a big economic generator in Lane County - with fans staying at hotels, eating at restaurants and shopping at local retailers.  A new report estimates sporting events generated $32 million in 2013 - and that's not counting the economic impact of sports at the University of Oregon.

Employers Struggle To Fill Vacant Positions

Mar 7, 2014
Oregon Employment Department

Employers in Northwest Oregon and the Willamette Valley had a difficult time filling vacant positions in 2013. At any given time there were 8,000 vacancies, according to an Oregon Employment Department survey.

More than two-thirds of these vacancies did not require more than a high school education and offered an hourly wage of more than ten dollars. Many of these vacancies were for farm workers, meat and fish cutters, and home health care aides.

Regional Labor Economist Brian Rooney:

Amelia Templeton / Earthfix

Governor John Kitzhaber Friday announced a $5 million funding package that will allow Josephine County's last sawmill to re-open.
 
The Rough & Ready Sawmill in O'Brien closed a year ago. It will now be able to open with upgraded equipment thanks to a combination of tax credits and a state loan. At a press conference in White City, Owner Link Phillipi said he expects the mill will be able to hire more than 60 people.

The Oregon Health Authority is accepting license applications for the first state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries. The law’s supporters hope to assure patients safe access to their medicine. But as a rapidly-expanding list of states allows medical marijuana – and with Washington and Colorado legalizing recreational use of pot – a growing cohort of entrepreneurs hears opportunity knocking.

DredgingToday.com

Oregon's coastal ports are used for commercial and recreational purposes and are an integral part of the state's economy. Years of federal budget cuts have left the ports in need of maintenance and dredging.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is allocating $20-million in new funding for Oregon ports. Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio had lobbied for additional money for ports in his Southwest Oregon district, which he said are in dire need of dredging.

logging
Tiffany Eckert

Conservationists from across the nation are in Eugene this weekend for the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference. Public lands advocates took this opportunity to protest a logging bill sponsored by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. Today (Friday) more than 50 people marched from the Knight Law Center to the Federal Courthouse.

The protesters are opposed to plans to increase logging on public forestlands in western Oregon. Self proclaimed "tree sitters" are part of the rally. So are fishery managers and scientists.

NEDCO.org

A U.S. Treasury grant will give access to capital to economically distressed Oregonians.

Springfield’s Community LendingWorks was awarded $420,000 to help expand small businesses, or personal livelihood. The non-profit is an affiliate of the Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation, or NEDCO. Executive Director Claire Seguin says the people they work with don’t have a relationship with a mainstream bank that allows them to borrow.  

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

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.

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