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Portland tries 3-50 project to save business

July 31, 2009 --

From the desk of the Executive Director
Portland Neighborhood Business Associations
August Newsletter

There are a couple of interesting projects going on that might be of interest to you while you stay out of the heat wave we’re experiencing.  One is called “the 3/50 project” and it is aimed at helping local businesses to survive in these tough economic times. The idea is for each person to think about the three independent businesses they’d miss most if they were gone and to ask each person to spend $50 each month with each of those three businesses. The project estimates that if just half the employed U.S. population did so that their purchases would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue for those businesses. They further estimate that for every $100 spent in independently owned store, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If that $100 is spent at a national chain, only $43 stays local. And if it is spent online, nothing comes home. These are certainly some interesting numbers. Lots more information is available at

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Oregon Media Suffers from Recession

July 30, 2009 --

Oregon Media Suffers from Recession
By Oregon Small Business Association,

As the nation faces one of the worst recessions in its history, media groups feel the affects of lowered spending.  The owner of Portland’s channel 6 KOIN TV station entered chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in Delaware, under a financial restructuring plan with debt holders.  In addition, Los Angeles-based New Vision Television, which also owns KBNZ in Bend, will eliminate $400 million in debt and guaranteed obligations and obtain $30 million in new financing.  Both companies deny that the bankruptcies will affect local TV stations.

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Business loans decline — Is Credit Crunch to blame?


By Bill Conerly, Businomics, Conerly Consulting,

Bank loans to businesses for commercial and industrial (C&I) purposes continue to decline.  That by itself does not prove that we are in a credit crunch.

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Oregon ranks 8th in wind energy

July 29, 2009 --

A report by the American Wind Energy Association, ranked new wind generation capacity.

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Portland Home Values: Where are we now?


By Patrick Emerson
Oregon Economics Blog

Portland home values, according to the Case-Shiller index, ticked up slightly in May compared to April (a 0.1% gain). This is not unusual, as the seasonal pattern of home values has, for the last two years and in the midst of the general erosion in home values, seen slight improvement in the May and June months. Still, it is better than continued decline. That said, the decline in home values from last May (2008) is over 16%, whereas the change from May ’07 to May ’08 was only a little over 5%, so the overall trend has been accelerated erosion in home values.

Have we hit bottom? Probably not. There are lots of distressed properties out there not yet on the market and lots of distressed families as evidenced by the high unemployment rate. Still, news that sales have picked up is encouraging, it at least shows that the combination of low interest rates and good deals in the housing market are driving activity. But we are a long way from the end in my opinion. I think the precipitous decline in home values is over, but it will be a while before we see any real appreciation.

For a nice look at home values and trends by metro area, the Wall Street Journal has an interactive chart. In general, as they have for a while, Portland and Seattle fall somewhere in the middle: not as bad as places like Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Miami and Detroit, but worse than places like Dallas, Denver, Cleveland and Boston.

By Patrick Emerson
Oregon Economics Blog

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Legislature Broadens Religious Freedoms for Employees

July 28, 2009 --

Oregon Legislature Broadens Religious Freedoms for Employees
Barran Liebman LLP

July 23, 2009

The Oregon legislature recently passed the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, clarifying an employer’s responsibility to reasonably accommodate the scheduling of leave time for the observance of religious holy days and the wearing of religious clothing in the workplace.

The Act makes it unlawful for an employer to restrict an employee’s ability to take time off for a holy day or to participate in a religious observance or practice. An employer must allow employees to use vacation or other available leave for this purpose if reasonably accommodating the employee’s use of the leave does not impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the business.

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Home sales up 11%, biggest jump in 8 years


According to Wells Fargo Securities Economics Group, “Sales of new homes jumped 11.0 percent to an annual pace of 384,000 units, the biggest monthly jump since 2000 and the fastest annual pace of sales since late last year. Inventory levels continued to improve.  Sales rose at their fastest pace in more than eight years, providing further evidence that home sales activity appears to have bottomed, at least nationally, in the first half of the year.”  Continue reading.

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How Strong Will the Recovery Be?

July 27, 2009 --

By Bill Conerly, Businomics, Conerly Consulting,

I’ll be updating my economic forecast in early August, taking a little longer than usual because of a major revision in the GDP statistics and their underlying components.  (Data wonks read this.)  However, it’s never too soon to think about the strengths and weaknesses of the recovery.  Before getting into that, though, let’s look at a chart that comes courtesy of David Altig of Macroblog:

It took me a minute to figure it out.  The horizontal axis of the chart shows the depth of the recession.  The vertical axis shows the strength of the recovery.  The points within the red circle are historic data for past recessions.  The points within the blue circle are predicted values from the Blue Chip Economic Indicators survey.

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Oregon’s Record Breaking Mass Layoffs

July 26, 2009 --

by Jim Lee, 7/20/09
Oregon Employment Department,

“This is the worst thing I have ever seen.”

(Herbert Morrison broadcasting on WLS radio from Lakehurst Naval Air Station NJ, site of the crash of the German airship Hindenburg on May 6, 1937)

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Stranded scam hits Oregon auto shops

July 25, 2009 --

By Better Business Bureau,

Lake Oswego, OR – July 14, 2009 – Most companies are eager to help a stranded consumer in need, but a new scam targeting Oregon’s automotive repair industry reminds businesses to dole out kindness with caution.  It starts with a phone call to the body shop from a desperate “consumer” who claims that their vehicle is wrecked out-of-state, but wants it repaired locally.

What follows is an elaborate plot to capture the business’ money. Allegedly, the towing company will not accept credit cards. The caller asks the auto repair company to charge a provided credit card number—possibly stolen—for thousands of dollars. Then, the business is instructed to wire the funds or write a check back to the “consumer” or to the towing company. In some cases, the towing company is to be paid a deposit and then the balance is due upon arrival, but ultimately, the towing company never shows up and the money is gone.

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