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Oregon Health Care looks at $800M in Fed dollars, taxes, more

March 31, 2009 --

What’s on the Health Care Table to Keep $800 Million in Fed Matching Funds in Oregon
By Betsy Earls
Associated Oregon Industries
Oregon’s Largest Business Advocate

The Current Program
There are two distinct revenue streams in Oregon’s current program: a tax on the 25 largest hospitals (those with more than 50 beds), and a tax on the state’s Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs).
The revenue from these two taxes is then used to draw down federal matching funds for Medicaid.  The federal match is significant: Oregon receives approximately $2 federal dollars for each $1 provider tax dollar it raises.

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Data creates doubts about the Credit Crunch

March 30, 2009 --

By Bill Conerly,
Businomics, Conerly Consulting LLC

We all know there’s a credit crunch, right?  That’s the basis for the latest (March 2009) Treasury bailout proposal.  So I went looking for the evidence, just to prove to you skeptics that there really is a credit crunch.  I looked at business loans from banks (data here), comparing all the post-World War II recessions.  Here’s what I found (latest cycle in thick blue):

The data link above has a plain-vanilla chart, in case you don’t like my recession-comparison baby.

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Lessons from Businessweek’s top 25 customer service companies

March 29, 2009 --

Safeguarding Service: Focus on the Faithful

Times are unquestionably tough with businesses closing at an alarming rate so what are the successful ones doing to survive? You now have the opportunity to learn the “secrets to success” from the top 25 customer service companies as reported by BusinessWeek. The key is to implement four important ideas for keeping costs down and cutomer service solid: Flex Your Workforce, Spoil Surviving Staff, Invest in Simple Technology, and Baby Your Best Customers.

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Small Business Optimism Negative for First Time in Survey History

March 28, 2009 --

Wells Fargo Gallup Survey:  Small business owners’ optimism recently dropped to its lowest level in the six years that the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index has been conducted. Covering a survey period of January 22 – February 2, the score now stands at negative four (-4), down 14 points from the previous survey (November, 2008), and 118 points lower than the Index high of 114 (November, 2006). It is the first time the index has dropped below zero. A score of zero indicates that small business owners, as a group, are neutral — neither optimistic nor pessimistic — about their companies’ situations.

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Oregon Entrepreneur Winner: Paul Bissett, WeoGeo

March 27, 2009 --

Paul Bissett, CEO of WeoGeo, was one of the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network $80,000 winners
Liz Overson
Oregon Entrepreneurs Network

Paul Bissett, CEO of WeoGeo, a geo-spatial content management service for surveyors, engineers, cartographers and scientists, knows there is a vast market for his product. Some people have described his product as an iTunes for maps because it has better indexed maps which has reduced customer storage,  hosting costs, and saved thousands for businesses. reports (as of 2002) a $175B demand for architectural services and IDC quotes a $145B worldwide demand for mapping. WeoGeo can help with that and so much more. To that end, Paul moved his family and much of his team across the US, from Tampa to Portland, in search of a business community that fosters growth for entrepreneurs and start ups.

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Stimulus, Science and the Oregon Recovery

March 26, 2009 --

By Ken Niezgoda,
BIZ Reporter

President Barack Obama promised to elevate science to play a key role in the nation’s recovery. While the economic impact of this pledge is still taking shape as stimulus dollars trickle down, the impact of science on Oregon’s economy can be assessed through several key reports.

Obama Pushes Health Care and Renewable Energy Agenda

“We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories,” said Obama in his inaugural address. The pledge reflects a philosophy long-embraced in Oregon.

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Business groups testify on key marijuana-employee bills

March 25, 2009 --

By Associated Oregon Industries,
Oregon Largest Business Lobby

Outnumbered ten to one by medical marijuana advocates in a House Business & Labor Committee hearing this week, representatives of Oregon’s leading business organizations testified in support of HB 2497 and HB 3052.  These identical bills, sponsored by Representatives Bruce Hanna and Mike Schaufler, clarify that employers are not required to accommodate medical marijuana in the workplace, regardless of where the use occurs.

Business representatives also raised concerns about HB 2881, sponsored by Representative Peter Buckley, which seeks to require employers to use a Medical Review Officer (MRO) to review any positive marijuana test and give the MRO the decision on whether medical marijuana cardholders no longer pose a safety risk and can return to work.

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Flood of bottle bill changes put local stores at risk

March 24, 2009 --

By Alyssa Williams,
BIZ Reporter,

The Oregon House Committee on Environment and Water voted to drop wine and liquor bottles last Thursday from the potential amendments to House Bill 2184 which would expand the almost 40-year-old Oregon Bottle Bill, Oregon’s beverage container return law. It was also decided to increase the deposit from a nickel to a dime only if bottle-bill recycling falls below 80 percent by 2015. The committee has yet to deliberate on the full bill.

Other possible additions to the bill based on recommendations from the Bottle Bill Task Force would require deposits for bottles and cans containing sports drinks, coffee, tea, juice and similar non-carbonated drinks, as well as adding 90 redemption centers across the state.

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Housing rebound? Ignore the headlines. Look at the facts.

March 23, 2009 --

By Bill Conerly, Businomics, Conerly Consulting,

Housing Starts Weak Despite the Headlines.  The Wall Street Journal says, “Surprise Jump in Housing Starts.” Yahoo Finance says, “Housing Starts Surge Unexpectedly.” So let’s look at the data (Chart on Right): The uptick doesn’t seem to match the headlines.  We’ve seen a few up months during the downward trend, so don’t get too excited.  We are still overbuilt in houses, as shown by the vacancy data.

You might wonder why any housing units at all are being started.  Remember that housing is local, so there may be a community without the huge excess inventory.  Then examine the inventory in that community; there may be neighborhoods without an excess.  There may be types of housing and price points that are not in excess.  That justifies some new construction.

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Oregon recycler first in nation with oil from plastic process

March 21, 2009 --

Oregon-Based Plastics Recycler First in Nation to Reclaim Synthetic Crude Oil from Unwanted Plastic.
Agri-Plas ships first batches of crude oil to refinery

BROOKS, Ore.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In the latest showing of Oregon’s entrepreneurial and environmental prowess, Agri-Plas, an Oregon-based plastics recycler, is the first company in the nation to convert unwanted and typically unrecyclable agricultural plastics into crude oil and ship it to a refinery for commercial processing.

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