Economy

Economy, Business, Finance & Labor

Rachael McDonald

Classified workers at Oregon's 7 public universities are bargaining with administrators for a new contract. Members of the Service Employees International Union rallied on the University of Oregon campus Thursday.

St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County

The waiting list for a new affordable housing complex in north Eugene opened Monday morning. According to Saint Vincent de Paul's Executive Director, people started camping out Sunday to be first in line for Bascom Village.

St Vinnie's Terry McDonald says in the 25 years his agency has been in the affordable housing business he's never seen such demand.

Oregon Looking At Record Blueberry Production In 2015

Jun 28, 2015
www.oregonblueberry.com

The Northwest is facing one of the earliest and most productive blueberry harvests in decades and Oregon is looking to become one of the top states for production. The early harvest this year is feeding an increase in consumer demand nationwide. Bryan Ostlund is with the Oregon Blueberry Commission. He says the international export market is also expanding quickly.

Karen Richards

At just about a year since its formation, the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network or “RAIN” in Eugene is thriving.

RAIN Eugene is a collaboration of the Chamber of Commerce, the Cities of Eugene and Springfield and the University of Oregon. It strives to help startups launch and generate local jobs and growth. Sixteen companies have completed the program. Only a couple of those have closed. Most are looking for partners, funding or to hire employees. Chief Startup Officer Joe Maruschak (MARUSE-CHECK) says momentum is building.

Rowan Moore Gerety / Northwest Public Radio

At high-end grocers in Paris or Tokyo, wild mushrooms flown in from the Northwest can fetch upwards of $100 a pound. That supply chain invariably begins on a dirty folding table on the side of a backwoods highway. In this second of two reports on the morel mushroom economy, Rowan Moore Gerety takes us to a buying station in the mountain town of Twisp.

City of Eugene

The City of Eugene has coordinated a pilot project to bring high-speed fiber optic cable to three buildings downtown. Two were connected last week.

Fiber optic lines already span much of Eugene. The schools, the city, and major medical facilities have it. But a lot of other fiber is “dark.” It hasn’t been taken from its source to people who would use it. The city spent 100-thousand dollars to help light some of the dark cable, hoping to attract and retain businesses downtown. Economic Development Planner Anne Fifield says it’s not just tech companies who can benefit:

Rachael McDonald

Whole Foods is finally coming to Eugene. Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday downtown.

Eugene Airport

This fall, Eugene air passengers will have a new nonstop flight option. Horizon Air announced today (Monday) they're adding daily direct flights to San Jose.

San Jose was identified over five years ago as an underserved market. A partnership between the Eugene Airport and several economic development groups secured a half-million dollar grant to help establish the new service. Dave Hauser is President of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce:

oregon.gov

Oregon officials are visiting the Dominican Republic and Panama as part of a trade delegation this week.

There are two industries interested in Latin American market expansion; Christmas trees and potato farming. The trade mission is being led by the US Department of Agriculture. ODA Trade Manager Julia Turner says Asia is still Oregon's top export priority, but reaching out to other markets is important as well.

Eugene, Bend Postal Plants Will Remain Open For Now

May 28, 2015
Portland Communities and Postal Workers United

The US Postal Service has announced that it will defer closing postal facilities in Eugene and Bend.

Bend and Eugene/Springfield were among more than 50 mail processing facilities nationwide originally slated to close this summer. For now, letters sent from Bend will still be processed in Bend, instead of being sent to Portland.

Peter Hass is a spokesman for the Postal Service.

UO Foundation

The University of Oregon Foundation dropped a bombshell Tuesday when it announced it would not pursue the redevelopment of EWEB's riverfront property in downtown Eugene.

Eugene Water & Electric Board Commissioners chose the UO Foundation last October over two Portland developers to transform the utility's 17-acre diamond in the rough property along the Willamette River. But the Foundation has now backed out, saying the deal is too financially risky.

Over the next few years, more trucks in Oregon may be running on the waste from yesterday’s burgers. Oregon-based SeQuential Biofuels has upgraded its equipment and added jobs, to prepare for a growing market.

In mid-March, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed the Clean Fuels Program bill. It requires sellers and manufacturers of transportation fuel to implement the reduced emissions rules legislators developed over the past five years. SeQuential’s Rachel Shaver says they’re expecting increased demand because the new law looks at lifecycle emissions:

Three Rivers Casino Opening In Coos Bay

May 6, 2015
http://threeriverscasino.com/sites/default/files/Picture2.jpg?1423607232

A new casino is opening in Coos Bay Thursday, bringing jobs and competition to the area. It will be called the Three Rivers Casino in Coos Bay.

Three Rivers projects the new casino will add more than 90 full time jobs with benefits in Coos Bay. The original casino is in Florence. The new expansion is part of the evolution into a full resort property according to Assistant general manager, Bob Garcia.

Oregon Live

Long-time Register Guard editor and publisher, Tony Baker, is stepping down. The Eugene daily paper has hired the head of The Oregonian Media Group to take his place.

Baker has been at the helm of the Register-Guard for 28 years. N. Christian Anderson III led the Oregonian through a transition to a digital-first organization.  

Former Dean of the U of O School of Journalism and Communication Tim Gleason says he expects change at the Guard.

Karen Richards

U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio led a rally today (Monday) in Eugene. He was raising awareness of President Obama’s push for “fast track” authority to implement a controversial trade agreement.

City of Eugene

A controversial tax exemption program for housing in downtown Eugene has been suspended since 2013. Yesterday (Wednesday), the City Council voted to let the public comment on its amended version of the multi-unit property tax exemption, or MUPTE, program.

Oregon Employers Report More Job Vacancies, Higher Wages

Apr 28, 2015
Oregon Employment Department

Oregon employers are offering higher wages and there are more job vacancies than in 2014. That's according to the Employment Department's recently released Job Vacancy Survey. The average hourly wage was $16.05 in 2014, this year it's $17.53. Employment Economist Jessica Nelson says higher average wages and more job vacancies are a reflection of Oregon's improving economy.

www.purdue.edu

Oregon's unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent last month. That's the first time the state's jobless numbers have inched below the national rate since 1996.

State economist Nick Beleiciks says this shows just how well Oregon's economy has improved over the last year.

Angela Kellner

The Lane County Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday to extend by 2 years a property tax break for Swanson Group. The company plans to rebuild its plywood mill in Springfield this summer.

Liam Moriarty / JPR

The Coquille Indian tribe’s proposal to build a new casino in south Medford has garnered a lot of opponents. But perhaps none as vociferous as the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians. The Cow Creek have spent a lot of energy -- and money -- rallying opposition to the Coquille proposal.

Unemployment rates continue to drop in Lane and Douglas counties. KLCC’s Tiffany Eckert speaks with a regional economist about the growth trend and what it means for communities.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Lane County is the lowest since June of 2008. Douglas County is trending about the same, seeing its second consecutive month with job growth.

Brian Rooney watches tracks employment in both regions. He says growth brings a mixed bag of benefits.

Bureau of Indian Affairs

The Coquille Indian tribe’s controversial proposal to build a casino in Medford is facing its first major legal hurdle; getting the federal government to grant the site trust status, making it Indian land. In this second part of our series “Going For Broke,” JPR finds that whether the project gets the go-ahead may depend on how officials at the Bureau of Indian Affairs interpret the fine print of laws and agreements that go back decades.

Liam Moriarty / JPR

The proposal by the Coquille Indian tribe to build a new casino in Medford has taken heat from all sides, ever since it surfaced in 20-12. Federal, state and local elected officials have lined up against it. The Cow Creek Indian tribe is adamantly opposed. And comments from the public at large have been overwhelmingly negative.

Amanda Butt

Living on the street is difficult for anyone to do, but surviving without walls presents even greater dangers to women.

On a Saturday morning, a church in Corvallis fills slowly with people looking to fill their stomachs with warm breakfast food. Within the crowd is Marge Pettitt, a homeless activist in the community. She is friendly and repeatedly stops eating to give hugs to people she knows. But when she’s on the street, she’s cautious whenever she comes across strangers.

firstsource.com

A call center planning to open next month in Eugene is hiring up to 250 people. Chris Autry, Site Director for Firstsource Solutions says the company is a businesses process outsourcer.

They're looking to hire people to provide live web-chat services to telecommunications customers. Autry says they want employees with good people skills.

Meyer Memorial Trust

One of the largest private foundations in Oregon awarded over $9.5 million dollars in February alone. Starting today, the Meyer Memorial Trust is suspending its programs to refocus its giving.

The Meyer Memorial Trust was created in 1982 by the estate of grocery magnate Fred Meyer, but is not connected to the grocery store. Kimberly Wilson is with the Trust. She says the seven-nine month hiatus will help the organization be more directed:

www.purdue.edu

Jobs are on the rise in Oregon. Unemployment is on the decline. That’s the takeaway from State Employment Department’s just-issued January report. 

Oregon employment reached a record level in January, with more than 55 thousand jobs above a year ago. State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks:

(Beleiciks)  “The sectors that added the most jobs were the broad ranging professional and business services, manufacturing, retail trade and construction.”

Legislation that would ensure all working Oregonians access to paid sick leave received endorsement Monday from the State's labor commissioner.  The State Senate and House are both considering bills that would allow workers to accrue one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.  This would max out at about seven days a year. Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian:

Emerald People's Utility District

The Emerald People's Utility District is raising its rates effective April first. Like many utilities in the northwest, it's paying more for electricity and receiving less income from selling surplus power.

The state, universities and local governments have invested in startup companies through the Oregon RAIN program. A cohort of five new businesses in Corvallis has just graduated.

The OSU Advantage Accelerator has been around since the summer of 2013. Mark Lieberman is co-director. He says over time, they’ve made the program more formal and rigorous:

Lieberman: “Entrepreneurship is generally a marathon and not a sprint, but the acceleration program is to get them to the starting line and that is truly a sprint.”

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