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|Wednesday, August 12, 2009|
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: One of Oregon’s most successful private companies in recent years, Integra Telecom, is on the verge of changing hands under less than ideal circumstances. A front-page story about a sharp increase in “distressed takeovers” in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal reported that Integra is being forced to turn over ownership to Tennenbaum Capital Partners LLC following a barrage of “hardball tactics” deployed by the debtholder.
(UPDATE, 3:50 PM: I just got a call from John Nee, VP for corporate communications for Integra, and he assured me that the impending change of ownership is actually a good thing since it will cut Integra's debt in half. "This positions us for substantial growth once the economy turns around," he says. I hope he's right, as do the 550 people who work for Integra in Portland. Nee also pointed out that Integra's largest shareholder is Warburg Pincus of New York, so it's not a matter of losing local control.)
One disappointing detail from the Inc. 500: Not one of Oregon’s numerous green innovators made the list. That may change over the next few years. One company worth keeping your eye on is Shorepower, a developer of truck stop electricity systems that was launched in New York in 2005 but has transferred its operations to Portland partly because of the green-friendly business climate here. Shorepower only employs five people currently, but it recently won a $22.2 million federal grant in collaboration with Canby-based nonprofit Cascade Sierra Solutions that is expected to create 962 jobs building a national network of electrified parking slots for truckers. These plug-in areas will allow truckers who would normally keep their big diesels churning, polluting the air and wasting fuel, to shut their rigs off without losing the heat, air conditioning, video and music systems they’ve come to rely on.
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