Sponsored by Oregon Business

Hood River economy holds steady

| Print |  Email
Archives - March 2009
Sunday, March 01, 2009

hoodriver.jpg Hood River has seen dozens of new businesses open and the county has the third-lowest jobless rate.

HOOD RIVER The recent closings of five Hood River businesses, including the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel, has created concern about the town’s overall economy. Yes, the hotel is in trouble and several businesses — Hood River Chrysler Jeep Dodge, Hood River Ford Mercury, Abruzzo Italian Grill, and the Panzanella bakery — have shut down. But local business officials say that the city of around 7,000, which relies heavily on its agriculture, sports recreation and tourism industries, is doing fine.

The weakened economy hasn’t deterred local entrepreneurs from bringing a variety of new businesses to the area. Over the past year, Hood River has seen the addition of 29 businesses, most of which center around the town’s tourism industry, says the local chamber. New businesses include several restaurants, retail shops, art galleries, a museum and a salon. And the county has the third-lowest unemployment in the state at 6.6%.

“Business has slowed,” says Stu Watson, coordinator for the Hood River Downtown Business Association. “But we are optimistic that in this economy, there are still people with steady incomes that are going to want to vacation, dine out and shop here.”

During the winter months, the town’s economy depends mainly on tourists drawn to the area by Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort. Although hazardous winter weather conditions limited early-winter travel, the area saw business increase during January, says Greg Colt, president of the business group. Bill Fashing, the county’s economic development coordinator, adds that there is no indication that the bottom of the tourism market has fallen out.   

“In a town this size, you know almost everyone. But when I go out to a restaurant or a coffee shop, I’m still seeing quite a few faces I don’t recognize,” says Colt. “When I stop seeing those faces, then I’ll worry.”

Fashing also notes that there are a number of other business sectors that are doing well, and have not yet faced major layoffs. Although based across the river in Bingen, Wash., unmanned aircraft systems manufacturer Insitu has boosted the town’s economy.  

But Fashing warns that while business in the area is holding steady and unemployment is fairly low, that could change quickly as consumer spending patterns change.

“Any industry that depends on the leisure discretionary dollar is struggling,” says Watson. “Businesses need to look long and hard at staffing and cost factors, and adjust to changing times. If they don’t, they might not survive.”      

Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


More Articles

Fare Thee Well, Company Town

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

Corporate headquarters are no longer a marker of economic prowess.


Ranking the airlines that fly PDX

The Latest
Friday, August 14, 2015

17 airlines make stops at Portland International Airport, but not all are created equal when it comes to customer service.


New green wood building product takes off in Oregon

Thursday, September 10, 2015
091115-cltjohnson-thumbBY KIM MOORE

Oregon is set to become a hub of a new type of wooden building design as a southern Oregon timber company becomes the first certified manufacturer of a high-tech wood product, known as cross-laminated timber, or CLT.


Storyteller in Chief: Power Player

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In 1996, after a 17-year career in the destination marketing industry, where I gained national standing as the CEO of the Convention & Visitors Association of Lane County, I was recruited by the founders of a new professional basketball league for women. The American Basketball League (ABL) hoped to leverage the success of the 1996 USA women’s national team at the Atlanta Olympics — much like USA Soccer is now leveraging the U.S. Women’s National Team’s victory in the World Cup. The ABL wanted a team in Portland, and they wanted me to be its general manager.


Money Troubles

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015

The state’s angel investing fund gets hammered in Salem.


Big Trouble in China?

Guest Blog
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
0818-wellmanthumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

Earlier this month, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) announced they were going to devalue their currency, the Renminbi. While the amount of the targeted change was to be roughly 2 percent, investors read a lot more into the move. The Renminbi had been gradually appreciating against the U.S. dollar (see chart) as to attempt to alleviate concerns of being labeled a currency manipulator.


Photos: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon awards dinner

The Latest
Thursday, October 01, 2015
100best202thumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Images from the big 2015 celebration of worker-friendly organizations that make a difference.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02