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|Articles - October 2011|
|Thursday, September 22, 2011|
A flood of cheap Chinese imports is swamping the global market for solar panels, driving down prices dramatically, but Oregon officials say their investments in solar manufacturing remain solid.
“We’re feeling confident about the decisions that we’ve made as a state and the companies that have chosen to move here,” says Business Oregon Director Tim McCabe. “Everyone we’ve given an incentive to is still here and growing.”
The state has invested millions in SolarWorld in Hillsboro, Solaicx in Portland and Sanyo Solar in Salem. The latest recruit, California-based SoloPower, received a $20 million loan from the Oregon Department of Energy and $29 million in tax breaks to establish manufacturing in North Portland with plans to employ 500 people within five years. But those local subsidies are minuscule compared to the $30 billion the Chinese Development Bank lent to Chinese solar companies in 2010. Prices for solar panels have dropped by more than 30% over the past year as Chinese companies have established dominance.
SolarWorld executives have long railed against what spokesman Ben Santarris calls “the swamping of the markets by state-sponsored competitors.” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) backed that charge with a sharply worded Sept. 8 letter to President Obama, warning that, without action, the U.S. solar industry and its jobs “may disappear.”
SolarWorld’s 1,000-employee Hillsboro facility is the largest solar panel factory in North America. The company recently shut down its production plant in California and cut 186 workers. That move came days after the news that the much-hyped solar manufacturer Solyndra would declare bankruptcy — the largest of three summer bankruptcy filings by U.S.-based solar manufacturers.
Even hard-core solar supporters such as Glenn Montgomery of the Oregon Solar Energy Industry Association acknowledge that “the news in the industry has not been good.” But Montgomery and McCabe say it is important to consider specific technologies and business plans rather than assuming that all American-based manufacturers are in trouble. McCabe notes that two of the three companies that went bankrupt this summer tried and failed to get state support for a move into Oregon, only to fail to clear due diligence tests. The companies that did receive state support “have hit every target we’ve given them” for jobs and production, McCabe says.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The big news at Oregon Business is we’re getting a ping pong table. After reading the descriptions of the 2015 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon, a disproportionate number of which feature table tennis in the office, I decided it was time to bring our own workplace into the 21st century. It was a tough call, but it’s lonely at the top, and someone has to make the hard decisions.
Thursday, February 05, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
We ask chiefs of staff for the scoop on Oregon legislators.
Friday, February 27, 2015
VIDEO: 2015 100 Best Companies to work for in Oregon
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY KIM MOORE
Robin Anderson, dean of the Pamplin School of Business, University of Portland: "You need people who are comfortable leading in ambiguity."
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR
Multilevel marketing, health claims and zyto scanner biofeedback machines: How dōTERRA thrives in Oregon.
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT
"Nostalgia is not an economic strategy."
Monday, January 26, 2015
The day after this issue goes to press, the city of Medford will host its annual business conference. The event features Minoli Ratnatunga, co-author of the Milken Institute’s annual “Best-Performing Cities” report. Preliminary data suggests that Medford is likely to retain its No. 1 ranking among best-performing small cities for having a higher concentration of high-tech firms than the national average.
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It’s happening whether anyone’s ready or not. Businesses here in Oregon and across the U.S. are already experiencing the effects of the largest generational shift in recent history, and these changing tides will impact every level of the workplace — from a company’s executive leadership to its cultural core.
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