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Points of the Day

March 16, 2010

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An Oregon group could be getting $18.8 million in stimulus funds, but a California senator wants to know why the funds are coming from the Golden State. And there's movement on the international front, with Oregon exporters calling for a lift on trade barriers and an Ashland motorcycle company getting a boost in the Asian market from Jackie Chan.

Exporters fight trade barrier

Oregon exporters say a European tariff meant to protect a now-defunct Scandinavian fishing industry is costing the West Coast about 1,000 jobs.

The tariff is among the trade barriers Oregon is asking the Obama administration to reduce in order to boost exports.

Oregon exporters say they encounter shipping-container shortages, tight credit, border delays, inconsistent regulations, trade-promotion glitches and travel-visa problems. It's a wonder that the state rang up almost $15 billion in foreign sales last year -- close to 9 percent of Oregon's gross domestic product.

Charles Kirschbaum, Pacific Seafood Group cold-water shrimp-sales manager, told members of the U.S. International Trade Commission last week that the Clackamas company could help achieve the administration's goal if Europe would open the floodgates to West Coast shrimp.

Read the full story at OregonLive.com.

Bike plan hits manhole

Portland Mayor Sam Adams is proposing drawing $20 million from sewer funds to help support the city's $600 million bicycle master plan.

Adams argues that more than $15 million of those funds can come from recession-generated savings on sewer projects.

A subcommittee of the Portland Utility Review Board is recommending that the full board vote against Adams’ plan. The recommendation approved last week says building so-called Bike Boulevards is “not a core component of sewer service and should not be funded by rate payers.”

The council approved the Bicycle Plan for 2030 in February to increase bicycling and decrease motor vehicle use. It is estimated to cost at least $600 million but does not have a dedicated source of revenue. When the council passed the plan, Adams promised to find $20 million to kick start it within 30 days.

Read the full story at the Portland Tribune.

SeaPort flying low

With SeaPort Airlines' recent marketing attempts failing to attract many passengers for its Portland-Astoria flights, the airline is making changes to cut costs.

SeaPort has changed its flight schedule and downgraded to a cheaper-to-operate aircraft.

"We've tried lots of different things to spur traffic to the North Coast, and we're not out of ideas,"[SeaPort President Rob McKinney] said. "It's very important that air service becomes sustainable. Things aren't going as quickly as they need to go to make it sustainable."

SeaPort charges between $49 and $149 for one-way flights between Portland and the coast. It keeps income from ticket sales and receives a subsidy payment that guarantees revenue up to a pre-set cap. This month, the cap decreases from $190,000 a month to $170,000 after starting at $200,000 in March 2009. The subsidies come from $4 million in state and federal grants secured jointly by the Port of Astoria and the city of Newport and designed to last for at least two years. While SeaPort's two daily round-trip flights between Newport and Portland have been about half full on average, flights between Astoria and Portland are only about 20 percent full despite aggressive marketing campaigns. McKinney said to make the service sustainable, Astoria's nine-passenger flights need to be two-thirds full on average.

Read the full story at The Daily Astorian.

{biztweet}SeaPort Airlines{/biztweet}

From Ashland to Asia

Ashland-based Brammo Inc. is set to expand its reach to the Asian market later this year.

Action star Jackie Chan will help Brammo sell its Enertia electric motorcycle in Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing.

Brammo has partnered with JCAM Advanced Mobility Company Ltd., a Hong Kong-based electric vehicle distribution company that Chan co-founded in 2005.

Chan, a martial arts expert known for performing his own stunts in movies such as "Rush Hour," will help market the bikes, Brammo said.

Read the full story at the Mail Tribune.

California stimulates Oregon

California Sen. Alex Padilla is questioning the state's decision to send $18.8 million in stimulus funds to an Oregon group.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had said federal funds received by the state would go toward creating California jobs.

Padilla, (D-Pacoima), chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, has scheduled a hearing of the panel Tuesday to grill commission officials about why, when California's unemployment rate is 12.5%, they propose sending funds to Oregon.

"To think that the California Energy Commission, for all its history of being on the cutting edge of policy, is giving huge sums to a firm outside the state I think is unconscionable," Padilla said.

Read the full story at the Los Angeles Times.

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