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Good news for a change

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Sunday, November 22, 2009
THE COVER STORY this month is the natural culmination of Jobs Watch, a web column that managing editor Ben Jacklet has been writing for the better part of the year at OregonBusiness.com. Each week, he chronicles the ups and downs of the employment landscape.

It’s been quite a roller coaster. In one column in June, Jacklet reported feeling more optimistic than he had felt in a year. “The change might have something to do with my quest to find companies that plan to add jobs rather than subtract them over the coming year and beyond.”

But the next week: “Strike that last blog — the one where I drank the Kool-Aid and waxed optimistic about the coming turnaround. The new unemployment numbers are out.”

Jobs Watch illuminates the hiring scene, from moviemaking in Burns, to Daimler’s decision to keep making trucks in Portland, to trying to clear the fog around what’s really happening.

Following his story that detailed the dramatic decline of Oregon Steel after being bought by Evraz, a spokeswoman for Evraz called Jacklet to browbeat him and suggested that he was “anti-business for writing the piece.”

“I’m not anti-business,” wrote Jacklet, “I’m anti-job loss. As anyone who has followed this blog knows, I give credit where it is due. But when a Russian oligarch who really likes big yachts buys a major Oregon employer and a few years later a vital player in the Portland Harbor is hanging on for dear life, I feel compelled to point out a few facts. It’s up to the reader to decide whether or not the facts are relevant.”

So when Jacklet finds companies that are hiring, you know it’s not a puff piece. As he details in the cover story that begins on page 34, there are smart companies that have found their niche and are growing.  Companies as diverse as Ziba Design, Smarsh, New Seasons, TriQuint, HemCon and SolarWorld have not been cowed by the recession.

Another bit of good news is in Deal Watch on page 42. It seems the M&A landscape is thawing a bit, with notable recent deals including FLIR Systems buying OmniTech Partners for $42 million and Kimberly-Clark out of Texas buying Beaverton’s AcryMed and another company for $276 million.    

Last, but certainly not least, after a tough Christmastime snowstorm grounded most sleighs last year and a lot of holiday parties got canceled because of the bad economy, even Santa is finding business picking up this season. “People will give up a lot of things first before they give up Christmas,” says Santa Pat Lewis of Silverton in the story on page 19.

I hope these stories and others in this issue bring you a bit of holiday cheer as we stagger to the end of 2009. Here’s to a brighter New Year, and a lot more jobs.

Robin Doussard
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