Must Reads

Jobs Watch: A $129 million boost for green building

ben-blogCongressman David Wu has been working behind the scenes for more than a year with utility executives, green building experts and university leaders to boost federal support for green building innovations in Oregon. The $129 million proposal that has emerged from that work could build a sustainable foundation for an industry that stands out as one of the state’s few bright spots.

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Jobs Watch: The best in green

ben-blogBetween the endless Oregon drizzle, the unpredictable financial markets and the seemingly unstoppable flood of crude oil gushing forth from the ocean floor, it’s been a rough month for morale — and for the planet. So it’s refreshing to step back from the headlines and pay respect to some forward-thinking businesses and nonprofits that are doing things right.

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Jobs Watch: Google's economic engine

ben-blogGoogle made a rare and very un-Google-like public appearance yesterday in Southeast Portland. It was interesting to see a company that has brilliantly reinvented so many things over the past decade playing the role of a typical business, hobnobbing with economic development officials, handing out free pens and notebooks and boasting about economic impact. Then again, $512 million worth of economic impact in Oregon is a phenomenon worth boasting about.

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Jobs Watch: Learning from the numbers

ben-blogEver since I was a kid calculating my batting average in between pitches, I’ve always loved numbers. I relish a fresh stack of statistics, and that’s exactly what we have between the new jobs figures and the election results. Are there lessons to be learned from these numbers? I believe there are.

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Jobs Watch: The Boyle plan

ben-blogNo, Tim Boyle is NOT moving Columbia Sportswear to Chicago or anywhere else. His notoriously tough mother, Gert, isn't going anywhere either. As for his first grandchild (her first great-grandchild), the Boyle plan is to keep him in Oregon as well, or more specifically, to create a future Oregon so full of opportunity that he won't want to live anywhere else.

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Jobs Watch: Solar hiring ramps up

ben-blogGubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley told a roomful of business leaders at a recent forum that he would protect their interests over those of an "out of state energy company" seven days a week. His point is well taken, given the well-documented abuses of tax credits by some of these outsiders. But some of the best jobs news coming out of Oregon can be attributed to energy companies based far out of state.

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Jobs Watch: The intern hiring index

ben-blogIn the best of times, it isn't unusual for talented young interns to work their way into a full time job or, failing that, get snagged by a competitor. In the worst of times, they search and search for something, anything resembling full time work — and eventually move to places like San Francisco, reinforcing the message that Oregon may be a nice place to live, but there are no jobs here.

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Jobs Watch: The Alley and Dudley show

Allen Alley and Chris Dudley are both running for governor on a platform of cutting government spending, improving Oregon’s business climate and creating jobs in the private sector. They have many ideas in common. They also have their differences.

For starters, there is the first impression they give. Dudley isn’t just tall; he is huge, to the point where it seems like there is an exceedingly far distance for his thoughts to travel before he can articulate them with his Connecticut Yankee accent. His responses come out slow and measured, putting him at a distinct disadvantage at any forum involving a stopwatch. But anyone who writes off this 16-year veteran of the National Basketball Association as a dumb jock or a figurehead is not paying attention. Dudley is a Yale graduate who fiercely represented the NBA players’ association and went straight from basketball to philanthropy and business, serving as executive VP for Portland-based M Financial, one of the state’s largest private companies by gross revenue. He may not be winning the debates but he has been winning the fundraising race, and that could prove more important.

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Jobs Watch: Significant signs of life

A tennis pro who consults with my far-from-professional USTA team offered some nice advice on the subject of improving performance during times of stress. “Look at it this way,” he said. “At least you’re not dead.”

The same can be said for Oregon’s economy. Yes, we appear to be stuck with double-digit unemployment for the foreseeable future, thanks in part to the egregious shenanigans of Goldman Sachs and their Wall Street brethren. And yes, hostilities continue to simmer within the business community from the hotly contested debates over tax increases, health care and other touchy subjects.

But at least we’re not dead. Not even resting.

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Jobs Watch: Who's moving where, and why

Oregon’s stubbornly high unemployment rate isn’t getting any worse, but it isn’t getting any better either. If it weren’t for the dramatic upswing at Intel, the state’s economy would be in deep trouble. Businesses globally are looking at relocating just as hard as cities and states are working to attract them. So who’s moving where? And why?

I posed that question to John Boyd Jr. last week during an interview at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront. Boyd is a principal in the Princeton, New Jersey-based Boyd Company, one of the nation’s leading site selection firms, representing companies such as PepsiCo, Honda, Hewlett-Packard and Royal Caribbean Cruises, which moved into Springfield a few years ago, creating hundreds of new jobs in Lane County.

It was eye-opening to speak with an expert who deals with the nuts and bolts of moving companies and has numbers on hand to make his points. His operating cost analysis of seven small market cities in the Western U.S. was interesting enough that I’m going to paste it below for the number geeks among you to consider (check out those utility costs in Quincy!). The rest of you should feel free to scroll down to the trends Boyd is seeing in his business.

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