Blogs

The OB Poll: Schools should get lottery priority

The majority of our voters in this week’s poll on video lottery profits say that the money made from the lottery should go to fund schools, period.

Lottery officials are debating whether to cut the share of money kept by establishments with video lottery. Last year, the lottery paid on average $71,000 to bars and taverns.

Some call the payout a tavern welfare program and want the money to go to schools, which are chronically underfunded in Oregon. Educations advocates say the proceeds going to bars and taverns should be reduced and that the retailers are being paid too much.

On The Scene: The future of M&A

The turnout was small at Intel Capital’s Jones Farm campus in Hillsboro, but the topic at hand was a massive one. Sixteen people sat in on a panel discussion this week called “Mergers and Acquisitions: Navigating the M&A Landscape,” helmed by three professionals well traveled in M&A territory.

The discussion was part of this year’s Silicon Forest Technology and Financial Forum (formerly two separate events), and as the panelists shared their unique perspectives on M&A today, there was no denying that technology transactions have hit rough waters in this economy. Is there an end in sight to the bleak picture? It’s hard to tell.

Although Intel is looking at some expansion areas, including graphics and visual computing, its M&A director, John Zdrodowski, said the company’s general financial discipline over the past few years — the belt-tightening and restructuring done in response to the downturn — is here to stay. Budgets at Intel are tight and head counts are flat, so any acquisitions the company makes have to make absolute financial sense. And Intel is also cutting back on divestitures. “That’s mostly behind us,” Zdrodowski said. “There may be some in the future, but fewer than past years.”

Jobs Watch: Down to the wire in Roseburg

For years, it has been a point of pride within Roseburg’s business community to raise $100,000 through the annual duck race to fight child abuse in the community. This year was no different — except of course this year IS different if you’re talking money.

Normally the duck race fundraiser goes right down to the wire and Roseburg’s civic boosters are called on to dig out the final 10% during the final days. But this year they weren’t even close — only $56,000 had been raised, with one week left.

Enter Neil Hummel, who has been in the real estate business in Douglas County for 36 years. He got out his Rolodex and got to work, and by the end of the week the goal was reached.

Editor's Notes: Robin says relax

I am facing the horrifying realization that 1980s fashion is back with a vengeance this season: big shoulders, leggings, oversized knits, MC Hammer pants (ask an old person), zippered ankle boots. I was just as hooked on Dallas and Dynasty as the next sap, but I really hate the idea of dressing like Joan Collins again. What next? Mall bangs?

Flash, trash and cash pretty much summed up the decade and once around was enough for me, so it is really disturbing to see signs that the ’80s are infiltrating other areas.

On The Scene: Sharpening your SEO edge

“If you’re not doing it, your competition is, and you’re going to be left in the dust." When someone tells you that, you'd better sit up and take notes.

That was among the parting bits of advice from Colleen Wright, an expert in SEO and owner of the Search Engine Academy of Oregon. About 30 people – mostly self-employed – settled into the air-conditioned comfort of the MacForce training center in southeast Portland this week for a workshop with Wright. The issue at hand: How to effectively use SEO for your website to market your business.

While the workshop was free, implementing SEO methods into a website operation usually isn’t. Yet Wright said that people are still increasing their budgets for SEO, according to research from Forrester, and about 73% of merchants are making optimization a top priority.

The OB Poll: Credit crunch, or not?

The thrifty will inherit the earth. According to our current poll asking how the credit crunch is affecting spending, almost half of the respondents say that they have survived the crunch by saving, and avoiding the pain of borrowing.

But the next largest group says just the opposite. Those saying getting credit is “Impossible. I’m bleeding and can’t get a bandage,” was the vote of 22 percent of the respondents.

Whichever way you handle it, the credit crunch is likely to persist, according to MarketWatch, saying that the Federal Reserve reported this week that with “delinquency rates rising to a record high, banks were still clamping down on lending to businesses and consumers over the past three months, and they said they planned to keep their credit standards tight for at least a year.”

Jobs Watch: Integra promises no layoffs

Maybe you’ve heard the one about the fast-rising Portland company that got snapped up in a “loan-to-own” deal that’s becoming increasingly commonplace as the vultures circle. Maybe you read it last week in this blog, under the category of bad news.

Dudley Slater, CEO of Integra Telecom (one of Oregon’s most successful private companies over the past decade, 700 jobs statewide), took exception to my characterization of his company’s efforts to restructure its debt. In his view, the deal is good news because it cuts Integra’s debt in half and sets a course for growth. But rather than paraphrase his perspective, allow me to print an excerpt from our hour-long conversation Tuesday morning at Integra’s corporate headquarters in Northeast Portland, edited for clarity and brevity.

Editor's Notes: Scenes from a workforce

Snippets of dialogue from my screenplay for a coming-of-age film I'm calling The Community College Graduate:

Businessman: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Disaffected graduate: Yes, sir.

Businessman: Are you listening?
Disaffected graduate: Yes, I am.
Businessman: Welding.

With apologies to Dustin Hoffman and that other iconic coming-of-age movie, The Graduate, it’s obvious that plastics is no longer the killer career answer it once was. This brilliance came to me after I recently had coffee with Dana Haynes, a spokesman for Portland Community College. I first met Dana three years ago when he was the only non-female invited to a leadership conference for young women. Three years later, he continues to be the only non-female invited, which I think speaks well of his inner qualities. He’s also a former journalist and full of enthusiasm and great tips about what his college is doing. Like welding.

The OB Poll: Clunkers program crashes

This week's poll asking about the cash for clunkers program closes out with the majority voting that the federal program is a waste of money. The second most-popular opinion is that the program at least is better than cash for bankers.

Seems the ire toward the financial sector hasn't cooled, even though pundits are saying they see the end of the recession.

Consumer groups are also on the case. They've called on the Department of Transportation to crack down on dealerships offering questionable sales terms to customers participating in the program.