Survey finds business owners worrying

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A lot can happen in a year: Housing slumps, the Iraq war worsens, gas prices spike to record levels, major natural disasters hit. So it’s not surprising that the mood of the 600 respondents to this month’s Input survey, conducted by research partners Conkling Fiskum & McCormick, is gloomier than it was last summer.

This shift, says economist Tom Potiowsky, “brings a little more risk to the vitality of the economy. When a business group feels that way, your worry is a herd mentality. Maybe they will hold off on hiring. It can snowball on you.”

But Potiowsky, formerly the state’s chief economist and now a professor at Portland State University, says that businesses have been through rocky times before, and they are now “much more resilient to the shocks of high energy, slowing housing, geopolitical upheavals, news from Iraq and things like Hurricane Katrina. Also, consumers are still spending, sales are still at a moderately good level. It’s not time to circle the wagons. You are still going to look for business opportunities.”

He notes that even though 40% of the respondents say they expect their business to improve versus 55% last year, “a total of 83% said things will improve or at least stay the same. That’s still good.”

The cost of health care is still a chronic worry, but not as much as last year. Businesses have already absorbed the impact of those costs, surmises Potiowsky. “They’re worried,” he adds, “but they don’t have their heads in the oven yet.”

To participate in the Input survey, send an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Research conducted by Conkling Fiskum & McCormick.


 

Over the past year, would you say Oregon's economy has: Over the next year, do you expect your business to:
May '04 Aug '05 Sep '06 Aug '05 Sep '06
Gotten better 40% 53% 47% Improve 55% 40%
Stayed the same 40% 35% 37% Stay the same 35% 43%
Gotten worse 19% 11% 14% Get worse 7% 14%
Not sure 1% 1% 2% Not sure 3% 3%













How concerned are you about the effect of the following issues on Oregon business?

Not at all concerned A little concerned Somewhat concerned Concerned Very concerned






Cost of health care 1% 3% 11% 32% 53%






Funding for public education 4% 9% 22% 24% 41%






Methamphetamine use 5% 12% 21% 27% 35%






Cost of oil 2% 7% 25% 33% 26%






Federal budget deficit 6% 18% 25% 26% 34%






Aging transportation infrastructure 2% 12% 31% 34% 21%






U.S. international trade deficit 7% 16% 34% 28% 17%






Crime 6% 21% 34% 23% 17%






Terrorism 14% 30% 28% 14% 10%




 


 

 

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Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


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