Okay, so we get the point: The business summit is not a high priority for our readers, at least not for the readers who vote in our online polls. Last week’s poll about the Oregon Business Council’s decision to cancel this year’s summit drew a mere 57 votes. The answer that earned the most votes (44%) was, “Doesn’t matter. Wasn’t productive.”
If you’re among those who love the Trail Blazer’s idea to redevelop the area around Memorial Coliseum into a mixed-use sports and entertainment district, this news won’t make you happy. Almost half the respondents to this week’s poll question about the JumpTown redevelopment idea say it would be a waste of taxpayer’s money.
“Imagine JumpTown” is a campaign for what should happen to the neighborhood around the coliseum. This past week, the city of Portland started accepting concept applications and the Trail Blazers are pushing their idea with a new website called Imagine: JumpTown. Portland Mayor Sam Adams is asking for public input on projects for the area.
One resident writing in the Oregonian calls the JumpTown idea a sad legacy for urban renewal: “Forty-five years on, the Rose Quarter dead zone feels like urban renewal chickens coming home to roost. If public money is ‘essential’ to JumpTown's success, perhaps the city should think about spending instead where people actually live — maybe just to the north in the remnants of the original JumpTown.”
It really doesn’t matter if the GDP, the local economists, the national pundits or your barber is telling you the recession is over. Most of you don’t think it is. In our latest poll, over 60% of the respondents said they don’t believe the recession is over.
"I think the recession is over," UO economist Tim Duy told the Oregonian this week, while “gazing past his young daughter … into sparkling waves off Hawaii.”
Nice work if you can get it, but many Oregonians can’t find a job and the state’s unemployment is among the highest in the nation. Duy and others also like to call this a jobless recovery.
Diversify or die. That’s what the majority of our respondents agreed would lift Oregon’s economy in this week’s poll. Not bad advice for organisms or economies.
Diversifying the business base has been the mantra of most economic development plans in Oregon in the past few decades. It was a state built on natural resources, and since the fisheries and timber operations started to collapse, small towns throughout Oregon have tried to find a way to reinvent themselves. It’s still a work in progress. Oregon Business will examine some of those former timber towns in its November issue.
Despite the historic rollercoaster of the natural resources industry, the second most popular vote was to get back to the basic of agriculture and timber. Timber is unlikely to ever be king again because of federal forests policies, but ag has the ability to always be the once and future king, albeit with a volatile time on the throne. In our September issue last year, we detailed how spiking prices and an insatiable worldwide demand for commodities such as wheat brought record-breaking prices to Oregon’s ag industry. But just a few months later, the demand plummeted, prices dropped and the rollercoaster hit the bottom again.
Our poll this week asking if John Kitzhaber would be good or bad for business showed that he’s got some work to do to woo the business vote. Kitzhaber, 62, was governor of Oregon for two consecutive terms from 1995-2003. He threw his hat back into the ring a few weeks ago.
Before becoming a politician, he was a practicing emergency room doctor, and in recent years has been working for health reform, founding the Archimedes Movement.
More than half of the respondents in this week’s poll bring a bit of good economic news: they say that their company is holding steady against the hard winds of the downturn and some of them even plan to hire.
Just a small percentage say that they are gearing up to fire workers, which may be proof that the reports that we’ve reached bottom are true.
According to the Associated Press, companies are laying off fewer workers as the U.S. economy shows consistent signs that the recession is over. The Federal Reserve said this week that 11 of its 12 regional banks reported the economy is stabilizing, an improvement from previous reports.
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.
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.”
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.
The results are in for our poll on the governor's support of Business Energy Tax Credits, and it looks like the majority of you think the governor is right on track for championing the program.
The tax credits are offered to those who invest in renewable energies, alternative fuels and conservation. The credit – 35 percent of the eligible project costs – can cover any costs directly related to the project, from equipment to installation. Gov. Kulongoski is a strong advocate of the program and today vetoed HB 2472, a piece of legislation that would cut down the credits. The governor believes rolling them back would hurt green-job creation, and a good amount of OB readers agreed.
Yet others cite the negatives of a program they perceive to be overly charitable and think Kulongoski should reconsider his veto. Some say the program's subsidizing of wind developments that sell power to California decreases Oregon's self-reliance and energy efficiency, for instance.
Is your business ready to join us in the call for action? This opening panel includes Oregon businesses who will discuss why they signed the Oregon Climate Declaration, the investments they are making to reduce carbon emissions, and how their actions are affecting their companies.