The last time I interviewed Matt Chapman was nearly a decade ago, when he was finalist to run the Port of Portland. He didn’t get the job but he did end up getting the office. Chapman and his team at Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) recently moved into the building downtown vacated by the port, bringing new energy and jobs into Old Town, with big potential for expansion.
Jon Thenhaus’s latest business idea grew out of a simple desire to have an infinite supply of fresh basil within easy reach in the kitchen. That wish grew more complicated as he refined his ideas and followed his muse, from herbs to worms and fish. Nine prototypes and several “massive failures” later, the 37-year-old founder of Fishy Farm has developed an ingenious ecosystem for the kitchen or the back yard.
Google's head of consumer marketing has nothing but nice things to say about Portland. “We chose Portland because it has the perfect demographic, in terms of entrepreneurs and technology," says Bernardo Hernandez. "It’s dense, it’s fun, it’s lively. There’s a real community dynamic. It’s a younger crowd. And the weather is really good for this time of the year.”
How can we possibly bring down the costs of health care? What about the tax burden on small businesses? The patent backlog? The national debt? The lack of credit for growing businesses and startups? Those were just some of the hard questions directed at freshman Senator Jeff Merkley this morning at a “fireside chat” organized by the Software Association of Oregon at the Multnomah Athletic Club.
The state’s new revenue forecast is out, and the findings are not pretty: nine consecutive quarters (and counting) of year-over-year job loss, surprisingly poor numbers in the professional services, financial and retail sectors and looming public sector cuts as backlash spreads over government spending. Housing starts are down, retail sales are sluggish and consumer confidence is understandably low. The Oregon job market is not expected to improve significantly until the fourth quarter of 2011.
There aren’t a lot of counties in Oregon with unemployment rates lower than the national average, but there are three of them in the Columbia River Gorge. Even as the state's economy has stagnated, the awesome rise of the robot plane pioneer Insitu as an aerospace powerhouse and other positive developments have done wonders for communities on both sides of the river, especially in the vicinity of Hood River.