The comeback trail

The comeback trail

This year's Private 150 list points to some encouraging news about the state’s economy.

The average annual revenue for this year’s group is up 7.7% over last year’s —$213.4 million. Total revenue for the 150 companies was $32.0 billion versus $29.7 billion last year. There were five companies with more than a billion in revenue this year. In 2010 there were just two.

You would think that this positive trend would have companies clamoring to tell their good news growth stories, but that’s not the case. You’ll notice there are some big companies missing from the list. It’s not because they aren’t growing. Our guess is that many of them are. But they decline to state their revenue figures, even though we list companies in a range of revenue, and don’t reveal their exact number. (Come on, the Private 150 shouldn't be that private.)

That’s a shame because if we could calculate the real total revenue growth for the state, that would give us a great barometer of where we are in digging out of our economic hole. It could not only give us hope but give us a good chart of what industries are doing well, where the job growth is and where investment might be wisest.

Here’s what we know from this year’s crop:

  • Nine out of 12 wholesale distribution companies had higher revenues this year over last year.
  • Eight out of 12 forest products companies had higher revenues this year over last year.
  • Six out of 11 professional services companies had higher revenues this year over last year.
  • Seven out of 13 retail and hospitality companies had higher revenues this year over last year.
  • Five out of 15 construction and contracting companies had higher revenues this year over last year.

But growth hasn’t been limited to the largest companies, as our cover story on Bend shows. No area flew higher during the real estate bubble, and arguably no community crashed harder than Bend. It was the canary in the coal mine. In 2007, the real estate markets in Central and Southern Oregon were the first to fall and Bend took one of the nation’s sharpest plunges in its housing market.

We set out to find out how a community recovers from economic meltdown. What we found was surprising. After spending a week in Bend recently, we came away with many examples of small, healthy endeavors that are creating jobs and helping bring the area back to life. Large or small, all of these signs of recovery are welcome news.

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Robin Doussard