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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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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Costco teams up with Citi for its next credit card

After ditching AmEx as a co-branded credit card partner in February, Costco Wholesale said today it has a new partner — Citi, the largest global issuer of consumer credit cards

The new deal means, Costco will now accept Visa, but not American Express, after a 15-year run.

Costco said implementation of the agreements is subject to the purchase of the existing co-brand credit card portfolio by Citi.

Under the terms of the agreements Citi will be the exclusive issuer of Costco’s co-brand credit cards and Visa will replace American Express as the credit card network for Costco in the United States and Puerto Rico beginning April 1, 2016.

Costco said members will be sent transition information in coming months.

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Associated General Contractors of America reports construction spending rose a bit year-over-year in January. That follows a decline in December off a six-year high.

AGC said it is eyeing the possibility of continued improvement with trepidation if Congress and the Obama Administration fail to fund highway spending.

 ”The generally positive trends are obscured by an unreliable estimate for residential improvements which purportedly shows a huge downturn that is inconsistent with other data,” Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.

Construction spending in January totaled $971 billion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, 1.1 percent lower than in December but 1.8 percent higher than in January 2014.

 

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Alaska Airline, brimming with confidence, adding six extended-range Boeing 737s by 2016

Alaska Airlines’ decision to purchase six extended-range Boeing 737s won’t likely mean changes here in the Rogue Valley, but its shows the Seattle-based outfit is confident more passengers will be booking flights.

Alaska said today the Boeing 737-900 Extended Range aircraft are valued at $594 million, according to Boeing’s current list price. Chances are, however, the firm cut a much better deal. Four of the aircraft are scheduled for 2016 delivery and two in 2017. All told Alaska has ordered 79 jets from its neighbor.

Of course Alaska’s Horizon Air unit flies Bombardier Q400s into Medford. There are 51 currently in service with another expected to take flight this year.
Alaska notes it operates one of the “youngest fleets in North America” and will continue to get better fuel economy as it continues replacing older planes.

 

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An empire built on a plastic-block foundation

You and your children have played with them, designed whole new worlds with them and dreamed about what might be.

They are Lego blocks and components.

Lego has now surpassed Ferrari as the world’s most powerful brand, according to Brand Finance, as measured by its Brand Strength Index. Lego is joined by PWC, Red Bull, McKinsey, Unilever, L’Oréal, Burberry, Rolex and Nike.

Moving from plastic building blocks, to digital games and theme parks, the Danish firm soared to new heights with a big-screen hit:

The Lego Movie, which has reeled in a half a billion dollars since its 2014 release.

Beyond the power rankings, there are two other categories on the brand horizon: Most valuable and fastest growing.

Not surprisingly, Apple is the most valuable brand, followed by Samsung, Google, Microsoft, Verizon, AT&T, Amazon, General Electric, China Mobile and Walmart. When it comes to gobbling up financial territory, Twitter, Baidu, Facebook, Chipolte, Humana, Priceline, Alibaba, Lego, China Merchants Bank, and HCL. That last one is an India firm.

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Carestream has installed new air handling and filtration systems at its White City plant to prevent contaminants from damaging its coating work.

 

 

 

 

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Aussies send Erickson’s Elvis into retirement

Word comes from the Land Down Under that New South Wales has sent Elvis, a regional folk hero, to pasture.

Elvis, of course, is the Erickson (formerly Air-Crane) S-64 helitanker that famously came to the rescue of firefighters during a little more than 13 years ago.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Australian state is opting for a large tanker airplane, capable of carrying 10,577 gallons of water or retardant — triple the capacity of one of Erickson’s heavy lift helicopters. It’s also 20 times the capacity of the average aircraft in the NSW Rural Fire Service’s fleet.

Erickson S-64 helicopters made a splash in Australia for a decade. Now Australia firefighting units have found alternative response aircraft.

Erickson S-64 helicopters made a splash in Australia for a decade. Now Australia firefighting units have found alternative response aircraft.

Wildfires tore through parts of Australia at the end of 2001 and beginning of 2002. An Erickson S-64 swooped into rescue 14 bush firefighters a few days after helping fend off a 300-home subdivision in north Sydney’s  Kurrajong Heights.

If its helicopters are no longer needed in parts of Australia, that’s not a good sign. Rumors have flown about in recent days that Erickson, which was headquartered in Central Point until 2009, plans layoffs in its Rogue Valley locations.

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Oregon is not far from Top 10-status when it comes to tax rates for small businesses.

The Tax Foundation has released its annual rankings, and Oregon came in No. 12. Two states bordering Oregon are in the Top 10: Nevada at No. 3, and Washington at No. 6. California is No. 48.

 

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Southern Oregon Business Conference 2014: Gross, unadulterated enthusiasm

Thursday's Southern Oregon Business Conference at the Inn at The Commons in Medford

Adam Cuppy, chief operating officer at Coding Zeal in downtown Medford,  is both an evangelist for Southern Oregon and passionate pursuer of solving problems for clients. Coding Zeal is a web and mobile applications agency.

Gross, unadulterated enthusiasm is Cuppy’s catch phrase.

Why set up shop in the Rogue Valley?

“It  wasn’t a question of ‘let me evaluate the validity of moving here, Bend or somewhere else,’ ” Cuppy said. “That stuff, of course comes to mind. It all has to do with accessibility. If I want to be in San Francisco, the people I want to work with are more accessible, Portland more accessible. But my values are not to making money, it’s living the life I want to live. I’m more driven to wanting to live here. So then it’s ‘Can you make it work here? Well, Why not? There are 200,000 people living here, I only need that big (holding fingers slightly apart) of a percentage of it.

“We deal in fewer transactions with super-huge numbers. There are benefits to that and also a lot of pros and cons. A brick –and-mortar store where the average sized transaction is $20, that 200,000 becomes really important.  For us, we deal in less than 20 money transactions a month, but that total is very high.

“We didn’t do a very good job initially, and asked is this right place. But I don’t think that was the issue. If you are focusing on the logistics right out of the gate you’re going to miss the most important part of starting a business. You are trying to solve a problem. If you focus on the why, you are going be passionate and you are going to drive something forward. Passionate people begat energy and passionate people will drive more passionate people and people seeing that passion will reward you with more money.”

We have a deep interest in how the Internet of things will change.

“Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also changed the world,” Cuppy said.

The tipping point for great innovation and entrepreneurs emerge when opportunity matched with economic viability, attractiveness, growth capacity are  coupled with regional development, location and recreation, and education.

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Copier paper, film and then medical diagnostic images have all been part of Carestream’s existence in White City.

In 1964 it began as 3M, now in under its Onyx ownership, the plant is part of technology involving flexible screens.

“Quantum dots is the next wave of technology if you’re into high-definition TV,” said Mike Tylutki Carestream’s White City site manager.

Recruiting difficult is here, but expanding local technology base will help.

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Linx Technologies owns the only elevator in Merlin.

The Internet of Things is Latif’s subject. Companies use Linx’ technology in developing their technology.

Linx makes three products in faub’s used for bank entry systems and the inward workings for boat trolling motors.

The defnition: Sensors, actuators, data communications and intelligence that go into products from the Internet.

“My wife says the thermostat acts like it has a mind of its own, I tell her that’s the point,” Latif said.

The connections are so cheap that you can connect any device for free, through your home Internet. Your TV, your refrigerator, your washing machine. Samsung says 100 percent of products will have Internet connections in five years.

 

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Radio Shack mall leases could be in demand

Radio Shack may be crumbling financially, but its shopping mall storefront leases have value.

Instead of shedding tears over the potential demise of another legacy retailer, upstarts and growth companies queuing up to snap potential leases, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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Consumer confidence is at its highest level since August 2007, according to the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which jumped sharply in January following an upward swing in December.
The monthly survey, based on a probability-design random sample reflects what consumers buy and watch.
The Index base-lined at 100 in 1985 now stands at 102.9, up from 93.1 in December.
” A more positive assessment of current business and labor market conditions contributed to the improvement in consumers’ view of the present situation,” said Lynn Franco, economic indicators director at the Conference Board. “Consumers also expressed a considerably higher degree of optimism regarding the short-term outlook for the economy and labor market, as well as their earnings.”

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Mobile ordering may become norm at Starbucks

Starbucks mobile ordering headed this way later this year.

If you aren’t already one of Starbuck’s mobile app customers, chances are you will be some time later this year.

After a test run in Portland, the Seattle-based global coffee company with multiple locations in the Rogue Valley, is planning to extend the service to 600 West Coast locations.

What’s more, reports Fast Company 16 percent of Starbucks sales are now done using mobile payment apps.

It’s unclear if this will set off an industry-wide standard

“This is actually something that we are always looking into,” Dutch Bros. spokesperson Jennifer Wheatley said. “At this point we do not have a plan to move forward.”

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SeaTac Airport is 55 times larger in terms of passenger count than the Medford airport and the trend lines point to the Northwest’s largest hub to get even busier with more international departures.
Crosscut examines how the competition between Delta Alaska is pushing the record-breaking numbers.

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Erickson Inc. shares have fallen on hard times, tumbling as low as $6.28 in recent days.

But the Portland-based aviation firm, with heavy-lift helicopter manufacturing, maintenance and research facilities outside Central Point and the Medford airport, has apparently staunched the bleeding. Shares traded above $20 in early 2014, but slipped below $10 in November.

Earlier this month, the company announced a new ferrying contract with a Brazilian firm doing offshore oil exploration. After spending last week below $7, Erickson picked up steam and were trading for $7.27 at 10:30 a.m. (PST)

 

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