Study finds Oregon’s exports slow to recover

Demand for Oregon products hasn’t kept pace with the rest of the country, following the Great Recession.
An economic analysis by Beacon Economics found the state’s share of total U.S. exports has declined in recent years.
During the decade prior to the downturn,1997 to 2008, Beacon Economics discovered Oregon’s average real growth for exports was nearly 7 percent annually compared to just over 4 percent nationally. However, post recession, Oregon’s export growth has averaged just 2 percent annually versus 3 percent in the U.S.
The findings based on data extracted from Foreign Trade Division of U.S. Census Bureau, show Oregon’s export share fell from 1.5 percent in 2008 to 1.2 percent.
Authors Partner Christopher Thornberg and Eric Meux point to reduced personal computer demand as a key element in the decline. Semiconductors from Intel Corporation are one of highest valued exports for the state, and as the popularity of smartphones and tablets has increased demand for PC chips, particularly from China, Oregon’s largest trading partner, has dampened, they said.
On a more positive note, during the first five months of 2014, Oregon’s exports increased in real terms by 14 percent over 2013 exports, surpassing the national figure of 3.3 percent.


Meanwhile, consumers apparently are brimming with confidence.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index increased in July with the Index rising to 90.9 (with 1985 serving as the bench-mark 100), up from 86.4 in June.
The Present Situation Index increased to 88.3 from 86.3, while the Expectations Index rose to 92.7 from 86.4 in June.
It was the third consecutive month the outlook improved and it now stands at its highest level since October 2007 (95.2).
Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said strong job growth helped boost consumers’ assessment of current conditions, while brighter short-term outlooks for the economy and jobs, and to a lesser extent personal income, drove the gain in expectations.

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Biomass One among USDA’s chosen sites

Biomass One LP on Avenue G in White City is one of 36 energy facilities in 14 states designated by the U.S. Agriculture Department to accept biomass deliveries through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program.
Biomass owners who supply such facilities may qualify for delivery assistance starting this week.
The Ag Department said half of the $25 million per year authorized for BCAP is available each year to assist biomass owners with the cost of delivery of agricultural or forest residues for energy generation.
Other Oregon companies included in the program are: The Gilcrhist Division of Interfor Pacific Inc.; Ochoco Lumber’s Malheur Lumber unit in John Day; Roseburg Forest Products; and Seneca Sustainable Energy LLC of Eugene.


Major cities tracked in the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices plateaued, and even slipped, in many markets.
Housing Wire
Nationally, 14 of 20 major metros saw an 0.3 percent month-over-month decline from April with only Charlotte and Tampa posting gains.
Housing Wire reported lower-priced homes and appreciated more quickly than expensive homes.
The good news for Rogue Valley is that four markets critical to local sales were among the nine nationally that have seen double-digit, year-over-year gains. San Francisco (15.4%), San Diego (12.4%), Los Angeles (12.3%), and Portland (10.0%) also scored double-digit increases in May.


And this from AAA Oregon/Idaho, the national average for regular unleaded fell a nickel this week to $3.52 while Oregon barely moved down to $3.93.
Here in Jackson County, the average is $3.95, down 8 cents from a month ago, but more than 3 cents higher than this time last year.

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Dollar Tree ready to scoop up Family Dollar

When all is said and done, maybe they’ll call it the Family Tree.
With the dollar buying significantly less each turn of the calendar, it makes plenty of sense for heavyweights of the dollar-store to combine their resources.
Dollar Tree announced its plans today, concerning a $9.2 billion cash-and-stock deal, including debt assumption.
The acquisition creates will create a discounter with 13,000 stores in 48 states and five Canadian provinces, with sales exceeding $18 billion and more than 145,000 employees.
Dollar Tree is the nation’s biggest operator of fixed-price point stores, selling everything for $1 or less. It has three stores in Medford, as well as locations in Ashland, Central Point, and White City, along with two in Grants Pass. Family Dollar is among the top multi-price point stores. Dollar Tree said it intends to retain and to grow each of its brands and the Family Dollar brand.
Dollar Tree targets customers primarily in suburban areas and Family Dollar targets low- and lower-middle income households through its urban and rural locations. The deal will enable Dollar Tree to serve a broader range of customers and deliver even greater value to them.


In the the wake of United Express pulling out of  Klamath Falls and Modesto, Calif., earlier this year, another Northern California community is mulling its prospects should United Express depart. Here’s a report from the Chico Enterprise-Record.


While Lithia Motors has upped its expansion profile with the announced deal for DCH Auto Group, its competitors are not idling at the corner market.
Asbury Automotive Group, the nation’s seventh-largest auto retailer — one notch above Lithia Motors — plans to double its pace of acquisitions during the next 18 months.

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No certainty when it comes to economic news

Alaska Air Group, Boise Cascade and Umpqua Holdings all report second quarter earnings on July 24. Given today’s news from MicroSoft, 18,000 layoffs, and the national housing construction report, new starts down 9.3%, it will be interesting to see how this Northwest trio does.


The Oregon Department of Revenue has mailed letters to taxpayers in possession of refund checks that haven’t been cashed as a reminder to redeem these checks prior to October.
Checks are void after two years and sent to the Department of State Lands.
If a letter is received, cash it immediately. If the check has been lost or was never received, taxpayers should sign the notification letter and return it to Revenue to have the check reissued.
Last year, Oregon taxpayers were notified about more than $1.85 million in uncashed refund checks. This year, close to 2,000 notification letters were mailed.
Visit to get tax forms, check the status of your refund, or make tax payments; or call 1-800-356-4222 within Oregon; or email,

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More radio stations, fewer AMs than 30 years ago

Inside Radio reports a continued decline in licensed AM radio stations. The number of licensed AM stations fell to their lowest level in more than three decades during the first half of 2014. At the same time the total station number hits another new all-time high:15,425.
It appears the YouTube generation is in love with HD everything, making AM stations a tougher sell.

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Alaska Airlines said today it will be the first carrier to get Boeing’s innovative Space Bins for its fleet of 737s. The larger overhead bins have a similar look and feel to the Boeing Sky Interior pivot bins yet hold more bags.

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Utilities preparing a wintry blast for your wallet

Here’s the essence of what could be best described as an unwelcome announcement today from the Oregon Public Utility Commission:

Natural gas prices are likely headed higher this fall according to officials with Oregon’s three regulated natural gas providers. That was the message they delivered to the Commission during the annual Gas Outlook on Tuesday.
Pressure is being put on natural gas prices by an extremely cold winter that has depleted reserves, and a shift to natural gas from coal to generate electricity said company officials.
“We are at our lowest gas storage levels since 2003,” said NW Natural’s Randy Friedman.
NW Natural expects their increase in middle single digits. Avista Utilities predicts an increase of 8 to 10 percent. And Cascade Natural Gas said it should be in the same range as the others.
Oregon’s natural gas companies get their supplies of gas from Canada and the Rocky Mountain region.
Each year the Commission reviews the gas costs proposed for recovery from customers by each Oregon gas company both to ensure the costs are reasonable and prudent, and that the company has taken all actions available to it to keep these costs as low and stable as possible. If the Purchased Gas Adjustment(PGA) functions as designed each core customer pays only actual gas costs, with no mark-up or profit for the company.
Oregon’s natural gas companies will send their requests to the Commission Aug. 1. After the Commission evaluates the requests, new rates will take effect Nov. 1.

The view from here:
Start saving up now for a winter of discontent.

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Avista gets $3.2 million battery research grant

Avista Corp. has picked up a $3.2 million grant from the state of Washington to research how to integrate power generated from intermittent renewable sources such as wind and solar into the electrical grid.
It was part of $14 million series of matching grants awarded by Gov. Jay Inslee’s Clean Energy Fund.
While it may not have any immediate, near-term, or even local impact on Avista’s Natural Gas customers in Southern Oregon, the research may lead to long-term energy solutions in many places.

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Foreclosures fall; Oregon not out of the woods

With the exception New York and the District of Columbia, double-digit year-over-year foreclosure declines were the norm in May.
According to real estate analytics firm CoreLogic every state posted double-digit year-over-year declines in completed foreclosures.
For the 12 months ending May 2014, Oregon saw 4,121 foreclosures, down from 5,140 the preceding 12 months.
Oregon, however, still retains a relatively high mortgage payment delinquency rate of 4.1%

Market Watch takes a look at the big box hardware store giants Lowe's and Home Depot.

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There are flight delays and real flight delays

Next time the ticket agent or TSA screening lines slow you en route to your destination. Think about this band of weary flyers, who have to wait another 86 years.


So how does Oregon stack up when it comes to touring via automobile. WalletHub put the Beaver State through a series of 21 measures, comparing it with the rest of the union to see which state offers the most enjoyment and the least damage to one’s wallet. Driving costs, lodging prices, traffic safety, weather and attractions were all part of the analysis.

Somebody loves us, however, because WalletHub corornated as the best state for road trips.

Oregon ranked No. 7 for its attractions, 34th for low-price 3-star hotels, 44th for average gas price (No surprise for those of us trying to cope year-round with fuel costs.), fourth for per capita nightlife options, 12th for per capita miles traveled (Probably would be higher on the list if it weren’t for price of those miles.), per capita car thefts, third for Scenic Byways (There’s always one nearby in Oregon.), 31st for correlation between historical high temperatures, July 1- Aug 31, and the ideal 75 Fahrenheit; and No. 1 for driving laws (Not sure if this is a good or bad thing.)

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SOREDI 27th Annual Meeting

SOREDI’s Annual meeting underway at Inn at Commons.

Bill Thorndike, SOREDI Board President, introducing an array of dignitaries Matt Stephenson, Chief Operations Officer at Rogue Credit Union will become the board president.

In the past year, SOREDI has loaned $1 million to nine businesses to fund expansion.

SOREDI has pushed to extend enterprise zones in Jackson County, hoping to add Gold Hill, Phoenix and new property in Central Point.

Any eligible business in the area should have access, Fox said.


Mike Koch of AmericanWest Bank: Our economy depends on our ability to create jobs. Companies featured during the meeting are often start-ups.

SOREDI Executive Director Ron Fox: In the past year, SOREDI has assisted nine companies, receiving tax incentives to invest $63 million in capital improvements, creating 400 jobs.


PROSPER AWARDS: Four business and inspiration award.

Ingenuity Award: Highway Products in White City, started in 1980 as a trucking company.

Tenacity Award: MasterBrand Cabinets has grown from 300 to 450 employees in Grants Pass in the past year.

Collaboration Award: Quantum Innovations, a participant in Southern Oregon High Performance Enterprise Consortium leader from Central Point.

Prosperity Award: Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a long-time non-profit that has expanded beyond Ashland and investing with a facility in Talent.

Inspiration Award: Dean Wendle, helped found SOREDI in 1987 and was an early board president.

National marketing effort, Southern Oregon Edge is unveiled.

Appeal made to share personal stories about conducting business in Southern Oregon.

Speakers: Brad Niva, Rogue Wilderness Adventures, Grants Pass.

In the U.S., 98% of companies have fewer than 20 employees. Reworked business plan this past year.

“We were on the brink of crash and burn.” Then Niva met with SOREDI and made advancements.

How I got Laura Bush to take a trip: “You Answered the phone.”

Niva got into an additional business, Wine Hopper in 2010 and more recently acquired a charter transportation service with a 40-passenger bus.

Craig Bramscher of Brammo: I’ve given a lot of presentations, tired of talking how we started. Talked to a businessman in China. Starting 20-person businesses. This isn’t all about work, but work is the life blood that makes everything else go around. 10 reasons Brammo is in Southern Oregon — Great people, great weather, great cost of living, great support from government, great place to start and raise a family, community support for our business, great roads for our motorcycles, cost effective facilities, overall cost of doing business. His presentation was capped by a series of of still photos of the region’s lifestyle.

So far, Bramscher has raised $80 million for the business and attempting to raise $30 million more.

Brfamscher: As Brammo hits its stride I want to figure out how to bring in more business to Southern Oregon.

Looking to bring $35 million through an EB-5 Foreign Investment center.

Jeff Blum, Procare Software: Company’s 50 employees are skilled labor earning an average salary of more than $75,000. Biggest density of 25,000 users are from outside Oregon, bringing new money into Jackson County. Had no trouble finding people for company’s needs.

Looking for good people, Blum said, don’t necessarily need the degree.

Jay Cross of Webster Global Site Selectors suggests any win in the region is a win for the region.

Let the community sell itself, let small business leaders answer the questions. Build the brand and the region.

“You can’t underestimate the importance of people going to your website; the more likely you will be able to talk with them directly.”

Infrastructure and cost structure are important.

Every project is important, Cross said, the one you are working on is the most important.





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