When I interviewed Blount International CEO Josh Collins a year ago, he offered a clear strategy for growing sales from $487 million in 2009 to approximately $920 million in 2014. He may hit his goals sooner than planned after Blount's purchase Wednesday of Illinois-based farm equipment manufacturer Woods Equipment for $185 million.
Facebook has announced that it will build a second data center in Prineville. InEnTec has raised $20 million. Black Butte Ranch is investing $3.75 million in a golf remodel. And Cascade Bancorp has reported a $2 million quarterly profit. Is Central Oregon’s economy finally returning to health?
Earlier this year, Powell’s Books made national headlines by eliminating 31 jobs in Portland, stirring up familiar questions about the future of independent booksellers in the age of e-readers and smart phones. But a quick study of the latest numbers from Oregon’s top private companies shows that Powell’s actually survived the recession in a stronger position than many of its peers.
Greg Cole and his growing team at Windward Performance recently sawed a hole in the wall of one of the seven hangars they occupy at Bend Municipal Airport to make room for their newest project: a non-motorized glider designed to soar to 90,000 feet above sea level. That would set a new world record for manned, wing borne, sustained level flight.
Yesterday’s Gorge Angel Conference 2011 event produced plenty of ideas: a new winch for securing loads on flatbed trucks, a simple cloth wrap to keep babies warm and safe in the neonatal intensive care unit, an electronic product registration system to do away with the annoying rebate’s-in-the-mail ritual and more. Now they need cash.
Intel is building a $2.5 billion factory in Hillsboro. Facebook is pouring millions into Prineville and Google is investing $100 million in Eastern Oregon wind power. Crop and beef prices are up - as are crab and salmon prices. Bank of the Cascades, MBank and others have avoided the wrath of the FDIC. Trucking is up 26 percent year over year, online job ads are up 23 percent, and business and personal bankruptcies are down 3.4 and 8 percent respectively. To me, this adds up to a preponderance of evidence.
The last time I interviewed Matt Chapman was nearly a decade ago, when he was finalist to run the Port of Portland. He didn’t get the job but he did end up getting the office. Chapman and his team at Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) recently moved into the building downtown vacated by the port, bringing new energy and jobs into Old Town, with big potential for expansion.
Jon Thenhaus’s latest business idea grew out of a simple desire to have an infinite supply of fresh basil within easy reach in the kitchen. That wish grew more complicated as he refined his ideas and followed his muse, from herbs to worms and fish. Nine prototypes and several “massive failures” later, the 37-year-old founder of Fishy Farm has developed an ingenious ecosystem for the kitchen or the back yard.
Google's head of consumer marketing has nothing but nice things to say about Portland. “We chose Portland because it has the perfect demographic, in terms of entrepreneurs and technology," says Bernardo Hernandez. "It’s dense, it’s fun, it’s lively. There’s a real community dynamic. It’s a younger crowd. And the weather is really good for this time of the year.”
Now that election day is behind us the next question is: What next? When will the economy turn around and how? Where will the jobs come from? Who will create them? Clearly they will not be in the public sector. What’s next for the private sector?
The business and political leaders who gathered in a circus tent this morning for Intel's big announcement were almost giddy with optimism, and it's easy to understand why.
How can we possibly bring down the costs of health care? What about the tax burden on small businesses? The patent backlog? The national debt? The lack of credit for growing businesses and startups? Those were just some of the hard questions directed at freshman Senator Jeff Merkley this morning at a “fireside chat” organized by the Software Association of Oregon at the Multnomah Athletic Club.