Economy & Business

Economy, Business, Finance & Labor

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

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."

Vicki Walker may be a city girl from Eugene.  But her current job calls on her to help Oregon's rural communities prosper.  Since 2009, Walker has been the U.S. Department of Agriculture's State Director for Rural Development.  In an audio report, Walker explains her agency's role.

Cave Junction: A Town Making Do

Dec 3, 2013
Lucy Ohlsen

Cave Junction is a small town struggling to support itself. It is one of two incorporated cities in once Timber-rich Josephine county. In Southern Oregon, residents are coping.

On the Friday before Veterans’ Day. The mayor of Cave Junction and some volunteers are unloading trucks full of army surplus clothing to give away the next morning. 

This is the second “Stand Down” breakfast mayor Carl Jacobsen has hosted. At 69, he’s been mayor for 3 years.

WA Fish & Wildlife

Oregon's Dungeness crab season has been delayed until December 16th. The season normally starts around the first of the month, but the crustaceans don't have enough meat yet.

Hugh Link is Executive Director of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission. He says it's disappointing to crab fishermen to start the season late.

20 Years Later, NAFTA's Dramatic Impact on Oregon

Dec 2, 2013
City of Woodburn

Twenty years ago this month President Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement into law.  Few foresaw that it would change the face of Oregon.

 

Downtown Woodburn seems to be in good economic shape. Anthony Veliz, who owns a marketing firm here, shows us around:

"All of these businesses here, as we're walking are Latino-owned businesses. King's Den barbershop and we have these little tienditas, little stores, shops, zapateria y joyeria.   We have a Mexican grocery store....we can go in...."

Rachael McDonald

The big box stores and malls are hoping you'll go shopping on Black Friday. Some even pushed their sales back to Thanksgiving night. Small local businesses are doing their own marketing for this Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is a national event with businesses participating throughout Oregon. In downtown Eugene, Toby Sovak, owner of Noisette Pastry Kitchen has joined with neighboring businesses to encourage people to join in.

Amelia Templeton

Over the last five years, shipping logs from the Northwest to China has grown into a 4 billion dollar business. Ports along the Oregon and Washington coast are looking to reopen log yards that shut down years ago and provide the raw material to feed China’s construction boom. But some residents in Newport Oregon say a proposal to export logs there isn’t good for the community, and will hurt Northwest mills.

Rachael McDonald / KLCC

Nearly half a million Oregonians were considered food insecure in the latest federal survey. Members of the Oregon Hunger Task Force were in Eugene today for a listening session.

The Oregon Hunger Task Force was established by the legislature in 1989.

Director Patti Whitney-Wise is with Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon. She says the state has made great strides but that the recession was a huge setback.

Residents of Newport fighting the reopening of a log export terminal received a reprieve late last week.  The state land use board has upheld an objection by a local condo association.

Residents at The Landing at Newport condominiums are opposing the reopening of the log export terminal by the Teevin Brothers company – citing noise and log truck traffic concerns.   They appealed the company’s traffic impact analysis to the state land use board.  LUBA upheld one of the appeals and sent the study back to the city for revision. 

Austin Jenkins

The state of Washington is about to make a major real estate decision that supporters say will transform healthcare training for the next generation. The deal has also been called “a nightmare.” We’re talking about a proposed lease of Seattle’s Pacific Tower - former headquarters of Amazon dot com. Powerful interests – including Washington’s Speaker of the House – want to turn the Seattle  landmark into a training center for future health care workers and a hub for non-profits. But internal state agency documents raise serious questions about the terms and cost of the deal.

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