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|Articles - September 2011|
|Wednesday, August 24, 2011|
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The bridge leading into downtown Oregon City is closed for repairs, and the city’s largest employer, the Blue Heron paper mill, is history.
So why are downtown boosters here so optimistic?
Lloyd Purdy, director of the nonprofit Main Street Oregon City, says 36 new businesses have opened downtown since the city started a revitalization effort in late 2008. True, another 15 have closed during that period, and large vacancies remain, but Purdy says a positive transformation is under way in this historic city of about 32,000 people. He even puts an optimistic spin on the February closure of the mill, which has dominated the area around Willamette Falls in various industrial forms since the 1830s: “We see it as a great opportunity to reclaim that property for a higher and better use.”
The shuttering of Blue Heron, the last remaining mill in the area, severs the city’s strong historic ties with the timber industry and the blue-collar mill jobs it provided. In an ironic twist, Purdy’s organization is promoting the new Oregon City as an affordable business location and shopping destination in a video titled “Blue Collar Creative,” with a hip-hop soundtrack and a montage of flashy urban shots, more steaming espresso drinks and hipsters behind computer monitors than blue-collar workers. The company that produced the video, Funnelbox Motion Picture Studio, is one of Oregon City’s most important employers in the post-mill era.
On a recent afternoon Funnelbox’s 35 or so youthful employees were clicking away at their machines, rushing to complete eight “deliverables” by the end of the month. Funnelbox has spun off a variety of companies since relocating from Portland to Oregon City, most recently a digital sign business called Flixeo and a 3D animation outfit called Clink. Clink gets its name from the former city jail in Funnelbox’s 1925 building, complete with a former drunk tank converted into a crash area for exhausted animators.
A few buildings to the north on Main Street, Jan Wright and her daughter Christi Ross were converting flour, butter and sugar into a mouth-watering variety of concoctions. Wright ran Wrightberry’s Cakes and Cupcakes out of her home in Oregon City for 13 years, before signing onto a five-year lease here last October. She said business has never been brisker, between the $3.25 cupcakes, enjoyed by lawyers and jurors on break from the courthouse across the street, and more elaborate creations involving handmade sugar flowers and frosted likenesses of Jabba the Hut.
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
As the recession recedes and tourism grows, Central Oregon resorts redefine themselves for a new generation.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
Spring rains are the bane of an Oregon cherry farmer’s existence. Even a few sprinkles can crack the fruit so badly it’s not worth picking. Science to the rescue: Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a spray-on film that cuts rain-related cracking in half, potentially saving a season’s crop. The coating, patented as SureSeal, is made from natural chemicals similar to those found in the skins of cherries: cellulose, palm oil-based wax and calcium.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR
Reinventing capitalism. Office dumpster divers. Handprints versus carbon footprints.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Jeff Lang and his wife Rae used to dole out campaign checks like candy. “We were like alcoholics,” Lang says. ”We couldn’t just give a little.”
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
Like all good journalists, OB editorial staff typically eschew freebies. But health care costs being what they are, digital news editor Jacob Palmer couldn't resist ZoomCare's offer of a three-in-one (cleaning, exam, whitening) dental office visit, guaranteed to take no more than 57 minutes.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
There are more than 160 farmers markets in Oregon, contributing an estimated $50 million in sales, according to the Oregon Farmers Markets Association. We checked in on the Forest Grove market, which for several years has brought local produce and food vendors to Main Street in the center of town.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE
A conversation with Gene Pelham, CEO of Rogue Credit Union.
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