Must Reads

Tara's working hands

Last week, when I was in D.C. covering the Small Business Administration's annual Small Business Week for my USA TODAY column, I was fortunate enough to meet Oregon's Small Business Person of the Year - Tara O'Keeffe.

Tara runs, and is the creative power behind, O'Keeffe's Company, a line of fantasic, all-natural skin therapy products invented by Tara herself.

While Tara was recognized in D.C. as one of 50 state winners, it was Thursday night in Portland where she received her local honor when the Oregon SCORE chapter and the Portland SBA honored her at an award gala at the convention center.

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Is it time for cheap tricks?

So, what’s working for your business? It’s not an insignificant question, that’s for sure. With Oregon unemployment the second highest in the nation, finding and keeping customers is harder than ever.

Go to any retail area around Portland, or a main street in any rural community in Eastern Oregon and all of the “for rent” signs are potent reminders of those small businesses that never did figure out the answer to the question posed above.

For many businesses the answer is discounting. I know that's true for mine. I am in the business of selling content, and whether it is an article, a webinar, a speech or whatever, we are not commanding, nor are we asking for the sorts of prices we got even a year ago. And it’s working.

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Blount International keeps growing

ben-blogWhen 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.

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Digging for gold in Oregon

ben-blogWith gold prices up around $1,800 per ounce, a Canadian mining company has commenced drilling on Grassy Mountain in Malheur County.

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High-desert drones in Central Oregon

ben-blogOregon State University and Economic Development for Central Oregon have signed an agreement to collaborate on research and commercialization in the fast-growing unmanned aerial vehicles industry.

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Central Oregon progress comes with caveats

ben-blogFacebook 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?

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Sowing the seeds of cash

ben-blogEight local startups won $25,000 apiece from the Portland Seed Fund in an upbeat ceremony Tuesday, and one of those chosen eight, Geoloqi, also announced a larger seed investment of $300,000 from local entrepreneurs.

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Long-term job losses still dwarf gains

ben-blogEarlier 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.

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Building something crazy in Bend

ben-blogGreg 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.

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