Opportunity abounds as the downturn persists

Opportunity abounds as the downturn persists

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STORY BY BEN JACKLET // ILLUSTRATIONS BY NICK GILLETT

The recession officially ended 18 months ago, in June 2009. But it sure doesn’t feel that way in Oregon. The job market is weak, the real estate market is in deep trouble, the foreclosure mess is far from cleaned up, banks are still wobbly and consumer confidence is understandably low.

But there are opportunities in this economy for those fortunate enough to be in a position to invest. Big opportunities. The housing market doesn’t look so bad if you are a buyer. Neither do the markets for businesses, land and technology upgrades. Even as the slump drags on in painful ways for some Oregon companies, others are exploring new markets with great long-term promise. “I’m more optimistic than I have been in years,” says Portland-based financial consultant Larry Willeman of Willeman Strategic Partners, who coaches CEOs on managing cash flow and investing strategically. “I’m seeing opportunities everywhere.”

There is no disputing that most Oregon businesses continue to wait for the sort of recovery that can bring the confidence to invest. But for those with the ability and mindset to find and exploit opportunities, it is a time ripe with possibility. Paradoxically, the more people who seize these opportunities, the faster they will start to vanish, replaced by new demand and competition, and the sooner true recovery will arrive.

But until that happens, here are five areas where opportunity is knocking and Oregon companies are answering the call.