October 2011

Temp firms boost jobs in Washington County

Employment in Washington County increased by 3.2% between December 2009 and December 2010, an uptick driven by the “employment services” sector, otherwise known as temp hires. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics and Oregon Employment Department analyses, during that one-year period, Washington County added 3,100 temp jobs, an 11.4% increase from the year before.

No cars make for an inviting street scene

1011_NoCars“It’s been nothing but positive so far,” says Zach Dotson, chef and manager of Dan & Louis Oyster Bar in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood. On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Dotson was pouring a glass of milk for a thirsty patron of Voodoo Doughnuts  — and waxing enthusiastic about one of Portland’s first pedestrian-only streets, on Southwest Ankeny between Second and Third avenues.

Are green buildings really saving energy?

1011_GreenBuildingsA couple of years after the Natural Capital Center, a pioneering green office building in the Pearl District, was completed in 2001, the LEED gold-rated structure underwent a “post-occupancy evaluation” to see if it really consumed less energy than a conventional office building. The audit showed the structure did meet pre-construction expectations, says Sidney Mead, director of events for Ecotrust, the nonprofit that owns the Natural Capital Center. But several years later, Mead adds, Ecotrust added three new “kitchen-ish spaces,” including a coffee kiosk and walk-in freezer, both of which “used quite a bit of energy.” It was only because the nonprofit also happened to install solar panels that “total energy use came out kind of a wash,” she says.

Smart cases for smartphones

1011_SmartAccessories_01Ken Tomita has a mantra he repeats as he moves from the woodworking area to the design floor of his rapidly growing company, Grove: “We build everything here.”

B Corps grow in Oregon

1011_ANewKindOfBusinessLike many green companies, Elements Natural, a Bend-based manufacturer of natural baby wipes, has pursued a variety of certifications verifying that its products are ecologically responsible. The ingredients for the plant-based wipes are approved by national organizations such as EcoCert and the Natural Products Association. Founded in 2007, Elements Natural is also the only baby-wipe manufacturer certified under the USDA Biopreferred program. 

Firefighting business is volatile

1011_SomethingsBurningThe wildfire season went from dormant to red hot in a matter of weeks in late summer, when a surge of blazes from Dollar Lake to Hell’s Canyon sparked a full-scale mobilization. Thousands of firefighters responded to protect property and natural resources including the Bull Run Watershed, source of Portland’s drinking water. 

Trash to cash: Agilyx turns waste plastic into crude oil

1011_Tactics_01Tigard-based Agilyx is converting waste plastic to crude synthetic oil, and striking gold.