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|Articles - April 2011|
|Tuesday, March 22, 2011|
Page 1 of 8
BY BEN JACKLET
Wilson Chen looks out the window of Suite 820 of the Portland skyscraper his company owns and smiles. “This was the first big deal that we had in the U.S.,” he says. “It was an unforgettable event for us. We put a lot of money into this building. We are taking good care of it.”
As if on cue, a window washer belays down to spray liquid onto the glass and wipe it clean, and Chen laughs for the first time of the interview.
Chen came to Oregon from China with $3,000 to his name 17 years ago. Then he was a poor graduate student. Today he is the president of the company that owns Portland’s iconic KOIN Center, along with five hotels in San Francisco and a huge soybean oil factory and a five-star oceanside resort in his hometown of Shantou in Guangdong Province.
Chen’s buying spree as president and CEO of Portland-based American Pacific International Capital was made possible by the recession. But it is not over now that the recession has passed, because the money he represents — direct foreign investment from Asia and especially China — is growing exponentially. The soft-spoken former hydrologist plans to buy more buildings this summer as another wave of troubled properties washes back to the banks. He is also positioning himself to make prosperous use of a once obscure but now red-hot government program that enables foreigners to earn “green cards,” signifying lawful permanent residency, by investing directly in new or troubled U.S. companies and creating American jobs.
The federal EB-5 program, as it is known, already has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars from Chinese investors into Vermont ski resorts, Hollywood hotels and Seattle real estate. Soon it could be financing woody biomass projects in struggling Oregon timber towns, adult-care facilities on the Oregon Coast, massive urban redevelopment projects in Portland and even the long-stalled Columbia River Crossing bridge project.
During the period in which Chen went from being a broke grad student in Corvallis analyzing watershed run-off to a well connected financier snapping up hotels and factories, China evolved from a nation of potential to one of destiny: the world’s second-largest economy, the U.S. government’s largest creditor and Oregon’s top trading partner. As China’s powerful economic growth continues, Chinese investors with newfound wealth are moving into the U.S. economy at a rate not seen since Japan’s golden era in the 1980s.
“We’ve got an opportunity now,” says Tim McCabe, director of Business Oregon, the state’s economic development arm. “There are a lot of investors in China, and a lot of money… We’re seeing a lot more activity, and this is just getting started.”
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY DAN COOK | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
A real-estate developer and a Lithia Motors executive aim to revamp the city's forlorn downtown.
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | OB CONTRIBUTOR
Marijuana is big business in Oregon, and it’s about to get bigger.
Thursday, January 08, 2015
BY CAMBIA HEALTH SOLUTIONS & OREGON BUSINESS COUNCIL | OP-ED
Businesses have a significant stake in the health of Oregonians. In fact, we cannot succeed without it. By committing to using our companies as levers for good health, we invest in our people, our business, our quality of life and our economy.
Sunday, February 15, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
As the investigation against the governor moves forward, those of us in the news business should reflect on our own potential for subverting the democratic process.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
BY NISHANT BHAJARIA | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
Startups in the growth phase are associated with a fresh infusion of capital — human and financial — a curiosity factor and products to disrupt the market and drive demand. Portland’s economy gives off the same aroma.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Will community banks survive the digital age? Three CEOs peer into banking's crystal ball.
Monday, February 23, 2015
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB CONTRIBUTOR
Live, Work, Play: Catching up with Chris Johnson.
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Generations of students and graduates have been plagued by the question: What is my true calling in life? Four alumni from Corban University’s Hoff School of Business who graduated in different decades say the school helped them find the answer by giving them a practical, well-rounded education.
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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Local businesses interested in offering retail items, food and beverage, or passenger services at Portland International Airport are invited to attend one of two meetings on March 17.
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