Erickson signs construction, firefighting and logging deals, but investors remain a tough sell

Investors remain a tough sell for Erickson, but the aviation services firm has managed to find a couple new customers.
The now Portland-based company, whose roots and employee base remain in the Rogue Valley, announced a new contract today following a renewals with the U.S. Forest Service and a Canadian firm earlier this week.
Philipines road and bridge builder Cavite Ideal International Construction and Development Corp., and Asia Aircraft Overseas Philippines have hired Erickson to provide heavy-lift aviation services in support of the Angat Dam project in the Norzagaray municipality in Bulacan Province, on Central Luzon Island, Philippines. Erickson said it will perform the jobs between April and June.
On Tuesday, Erickson said it renewed contracts with the Forest Service and Canadian aerial heavy lift company Helifor, a subsidiary of Columbia Helicopters.
CEO Jeff Roberts, who took leadership of Erickson when Udo Rieder stepped down last month, said the project is good fit for the company and will allow it expand its Pacific Rim presence.
“We are known for our unique capabilities and experience with precision external load operations, including the transportation and placement of unwieldy materials across difficult terrain in hard to reach locations,” Roberts said in a statement. “Asia is a burgeoning global market, and we’re glad to bring the skills and experience of our pilots and crews to this important infrastructure project.”
This agreement guarantees the use of an S-64E Aircrane in support of a crucial water diversion project, which will ensure water is accessible to hydro-electric facilities supporting Manila and the surrounding rural area. The aircraft will be deployed to move equipment and materials required for the construction of a tunnel to divert 5 million gallons of water daily from the Sumag River to the Angat Dam, augmenting the area’s water supply.
The Forest Service renewal keeps multiple S-64 Aircranes available throughout the 2015 North American fire season, which is anticipated to be expansive due to drought conditions. Erickson said the deal provides predictable income and consistent cash flow.
The timber harvest work with Helifor Canada continues a 25-year relationship for year-round activity in British Columbia. Erickson keeps an S64-E, its pilots, crews, field maintenance support parts, and components inventory on hand.
“These agreements help provide stability to our recurring base of business and reflect our successful previous performance,” Roberts said.
In February, Erickson shed 150 jobs mostly at two Rogue Valley locations where the company’s manufacturing and maintenance work is centered. The firm presently has about 850 employees globally.
Erickson shares have traded as high as $19.25 in the past year, but have plunged below $4 of late. As of 9:45 a.m. shares were trading at $3.72, down 10 cents.

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Nothing succeeds like … a good wine promotion

Oregon wines will fly free on Alaska Airlines for another two years.
The Oregon Wines Fly Free program, encouraging passengers traveling from Oregon on Alaska Airlines to check a case of Oregon wine for free, has been extended through 2017.
Backed by the Oregon Wine Board, Travel Oregon and Alaska Airlines, Oregon launched a trial program in September 2013. Today, more than 300 Oregon wineries participate.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan passengers departing from Medford, Redmond, Eugene, and Portland airports, as well as nearby Walla Walla, Wash., can check one case of wine at no cost. Inbound visitors receive complimentary tastings at participating wineries by showing their Alaska Airlines boarding passes within a week of arrival.
The Oregon Wine Board reports nearly 5,000 cases have flown out of the state thanks to the program.

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Judge tells pilots to keep Allegiant airborne

Call it a near miss.
Allegiant Air pilots were set to go on strike today. Meaning flights from Medford to Las Vegas and Los Angeles would have been cancelled because the Las Vegas-based travel company didn’t have enough back-ups available.
The pilots union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 1224, announced Wednesday it’s veteran pilots would not fly because the discount carrier failed to restore benefits taken away during the economic downturn.
However, Judge Gloria Navarro of the U.S. District Court in Nevada approved Allegiant’s request for a temporary restraining order against the Allegiant pilots.
She said he strike would likely prove to be illegal and that it would cause irreparable harm to the discount carrier. Allegiant operates about 175 flights a day, and a strike would have cost the airline $7.7 million a day, according to court documents.
Allegiant’s base fares are bargains, but ups the ante for seat assignments, putting bags in overhead bins, soft drinks and water.
Although a strike may not have ended the current run of record months for the Medford airport, it would have messed up Easter vacation plans for hundreds of local residents.
Airport Director Bern Case said he didn’t recall a strike cancelling flights in his nearly two decades in Medford.
“The last labor issue I remember was very much before I came to this airport,” Case said.


Sticking with the airline industry, Alaska Air Group unit Horizon Air, Medford’s market share leader, reported a 7.0 percent system-wide increase in March traffic on a 5.1 percent increase in capacity from March 2014. The carrier said it had a 1.4 point increase in load factor to a March record of 81.3 percent. Horizon also reported 85.9 percent of its flights arrived on time in March, compared to the 85.4 percent a year earlier.

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State senate president says there will be no minimum wage increase during 2015 session

State Senate President Peter Courtney unequivocally said Thursday a $15 hourly wage bill won’t make it to the floor this session.

Speaking to members of several Southern Oregon chambers of commerce, Courtney said he will take heat from his own party, but his mind is made up.

“I have said, and this has gotten me in trouble,” the Marion County Democrat said. “I’m not going to do minimum wage this session. I will not do minimum wage, and I’m a Democrat and that has not endeared me to my family.

“I support minimum wage, and I said at the campaign when I ran for re-election,” Courtney said. “I’m going to do the sick leave thing, but I’m not going to do minimum wage. I’m being vilified, and that’s OK because as a Democrat that’s a litmus test, and I think word has gotten out that Peter doesn’t want to do minimum wage. The reason is, I do think you have to be careful about how far you go with these things because of small business owners and economics of small businesses.”

He said there will committee hearings, but it won’t come to the floor.

“That’s a tough statement to make, but I made it here,” Courtney said. “I will deal with the heat .”

Courtney, however, is still championing Senate Bill 454, which mandates statewide sick pay by employers.

Even without support of the senate president, who determines which bills make the floor, the minimum wage could wiggle its way to reality, Grants Pass Republican  Sen. Herman Baertschiger Jr., told the chamber groups, adding a lot of dead bills are exhumed and attached as riders near the end of the session.

“The speaker (Tina Kotek, D-, Portland) wants it more than she wants to breath,” Roseburg Republican Jeff Kruse told the business leaders when asked about the matter.

Medford/Jackson County Chamber CEO Brad Hicks said his organization is relieved to hear Courtney’s position.

“We’ve already seen Seattle create a lot of ex-workers and an exodus of small businesses with their new $15 minimum wage,” Hicks said. “That is the type of hit a slowly recovering Oregon economy can hardly bear. Nobody wants Oregonians to flourish and hold family wage jobs more than chambers of commerce across this state, but prosperity by government edict is no way to achieve that goal.”




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Rep. Mike McLane, northeast Jackson County

Just before heading out of town, Minority leader Mike McLane told business leaders from Southern Oregon, what they have heard repeatedly:

“To be blunt, business is suffering a death by a thousand cuts,” McLane he said.

He said HB 2386, sent back to committee earlier in the day, the form in which it was sent to the floor was really shocking,” he said. “There are no rights until it reached the courts and no attorney’s fees recoverable, even if you prevail. It was an absolute bulling tactic.”

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Duane Stark

Freshman state Rep. Duane Stark (R-Grants Pass) said the first two-plus months of his first term in Salem have produced a powerful impression.

“It reminds me of my first varsity football game,” Stark, a Hidden Valley High School graduate told members of three Southern Oregon chambers of commerce. “The very first play of the game I catch the ball and someone creams me. I’m lying there seeing stars, that’s what it is like coming up here and being part of the minority. The other thing is that if feel like I’ve jumped in the Rogue River and am swimming up the rapids, where you are swimming as hard as you can and going backwards. One of my biggest goals is to help stop bad things from happening.”

Stark is a member of the Consumer Protection and Government Effectiveness committee which is formulating changes to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program.

“I have this impression of where we should be in helping people and where we are, and there is a huge divide in between them. There is no way in this session that we can close that gap.”



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Betsy Earls, VP and Counsel, Associated Oregon Industries

Members of the three Southern Oregon chambers of commerce continue to hear from legislators and industry insiders.

Two minority reports, the result of both Democrat and Republican opposition have for now stalled a House Bill 2386, which authorizes the Bureau of Labor and Industry to issue potentially unjustified cease and desist orders to employers creating costly legal costs. As a result, the bill was sent back committee Thursday morning.

“The  speaker (Tina Kotek) decided to send back for further work,” said Betsy Earls, vice president and counsel for Associated Oregon Industries who has lobbied to down-size the bill, which will likely get passed in some form.

“The most important piece was tremendous effort by chambers and employers to the Legislature,” Earls said.


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Sal Esquivel

In addressing members of  three Southern Oregon chambers of commerce at the state capital, Rep, Sal Esquivel (R-Medford) said it was important for employers to write to Democrats Peter Buckley and Alan Bates, expressing their thoughts on an array of Democrat legislative initiatives ranging from wage claims liability and mandatory paid sick leave to increased minimum wage and prevailing wage requirements in enterprise zones.

Redundant messages, he said, were


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Manufacturing leads Oregon’s export expansion

Recent Commerce Department export data showed Oregon’s international economy is maintaining momentum, but isn’t firing on all cylinders.

After soaring in December, the state’s export growth cooled in January while outpacing the previous year’s activity.

Los Angeles-based Beacon Economics reported Oregon exporters shipped $1.67 billion worth of goods in January, an 8.9 percent increase over January 2014, and a continuation of the near record high export levels. The nation as a whole, however, saw a 4.7 percent decline in the value of goods exported in January.

Factoring for inflation the gains in January become even larger, Beacon Economics reported. So in real terms, Oregon’s exports increased 17.1 percent%.

“The U.S. trade deficit has widened sharply in recent months but this is not due to a collapse in export activity,” said Christopher Thornberg, Beacon Economics founder. “It is because of a spike in import demand driven by accelerating consumer and business spending here in the U.S.”

Manufacturing propelled January, shipping $1.25 billion of goods, a 14.5 percent year-over-year increase. Meanwhile non-manufactured goods, such as agricultural products and raw materials, slumped 6.4 percent to $245.2 million.

Ashleigh Baumann, who acquired fashion retailer Urban Minx in the Rogue Valley Mall at the end of 2014, is relaunching the shop this week.
Baumann is holding a grand reopening 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday.

Alaska Airlines begins daily nonstop service between Seattle and New York’s JFK airport starting Sept. 16.

Alaska presently flys twice-daily routes to nearby Newark. However, JFK is the main hub for international flights in the Big Apple and will make for better connections.

The airline is holding “A Weekend in New York” sweepstakes on its Facebook page for residents of Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Idaho, 18 and older.

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Cash deals for homes remains in decline

Real estate analytics firm CoreLogic reports cash sales made up 35.5 percent of  home sales nationally in December, down from 38.5 percent in December 2013.

The year-over-year share has fallen each month since January 2013, making December the 24th consecutive month of declines. The Irvine, Calif., firm  said the peak occurred in January 2011 when cash transactions made up 46.5 percent of total home sales. Prior to the real estate bust, the cash sales share of total home sales averaged approximately 25 percent. Should the cash sales share continue to fall at the same rate that it did in December 2014, the share should reach 25 percent in mid-2017.

While Portland Metro area cash sales declined nearly 10 percent in December, accounting for just over one in five house sales, the statewide figure for Oregon was 26 percent.

CoreLogic notes cash sales share comparisons are best suited for year-over-year analysis because of the seasonality of the market.


The Conference Board Employment Trends Index jumped 6.7 percent in in February to 127.76, up from 127.62  in January.

The bump was the 14th straight, and the longest consecutive positive stretch in 30 years.

“Strong job growth and the rapid decline in the unemployment rate are likely to continue, and acceleration in wage growth is just a matter of time,” said Gad Levanon, Managing Director of Macroeconomic and Labor Market Research at The Conference Board in a statement.

The index surge was driven by percentage of firms with positions unable to fill immediately, the ratio of involuntarily part-time to all part-time workers, real manufacturing and trade sales, industrial production, along with job openings.


We may be seeing Dollar General stores in the Rogue Valley sooner than later.

The Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based competitor of Dollar Tree has opened its first two Oregon stores in Brookings, where it built a 9,000-square-foot shop along U.S. 101, and Winston.

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