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Columbia River Crossing Bridge Knocked by Taxpayer Group

By Oregon Tax News

The watchdog taxpayer group, Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS), has included the Columbia River Crossing Bridge in its list of what it terms “common sense cuts to avoid the fiscal cliff.” The cuts total $2.0 trillion, which is more than enough to avoid sequestration, the across-the-board budget cuts mandated by law that will automatically go into effect January 2, 2013, if the budget is not otherwise cut. Sequestration will hit defense and non-defense budgets equally.

“Sequestration is bad. It would cut the good along with the bad, the effective and the wasteful. It is irresponsible,” states the TCS October 2012 report.

Instead, the report suggests dozens of projects that should be cut, including the Columbia River Crossing Bridge, which would save $1.25 billion. The report argues that the proposed highway-transit bridge over the Columbia River would only reduce morning commute times by 60 seconds. It also argues that the state transportation department’s justification for the project is based on faulty traffic projections. “Congress should deny state requests for one-third of the project’s billion dollar price tag and require more cost-effective alternatives,” concludes the report.

It also recommends cutting the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project (saving $1.2-$4.6 billion) and the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project (saving $1.4 billion).

The entire TCS report can be found here.

PC Sales in Sharp Decline

By Oregon Small Business Association

Analysts at IDC and Gartner Inc. said PC shipments in this year’s third quarter were down by 87.5 million, or 8% lower than a year ago. A report from IHS iSuppli projected that overall sales would decline this year for the first time in 11 years.

“This is definitively a crossroads” for the computer industry, IDC analyst David Daoud told the Wall Street Journal. “It could be a make or break moment.”

Sales of personal computers are in sharp decline, fueled by the weak economy, falling PC sales in emerging countries, and the rising popularity of smartphones and tablet computers such as the iPad and the Galaxy Tab

Todd Bradley, the head of Hewlett-Packard’s PC business, said he thinks the core PC market will stay flat “potentially through 2015.” Bradley thinks one area of the market that will grow is the all-in-one desktops, systems that have the monitor and computer in the same case.

The Chinese PC maker Lenovo reported their net profit in the three months through September was up 13% from a year ago in spite of the general PC slump. However, this profit was the smallest in more than two years, down 30% from the previous quarter.

Gene Marks of Forbes sees the decline all differently, he says “The PC industry is not dead. And it’s not dying. There’s a secret to the declining PC sales. Today’s PCs, and the operating systems that run them, just last longer”.

Reform needed over wood product certification

Reform needed over wood product certification 
By Oregon Small Business Association

Oregon’s federal lawmakers have taken a strong stand against China’s unfair and manipulative trade practices that have made its government-subsidized wood and paper products artificially cheap in the U.S. market. Chinese firms are also reaping huge profits from illegal logging.

“American manufacturers can’t compete when the deck is unfairly stacked against them,” Congressman Peter DeFazio said, in support of a Congressional investigation of Chinese plywood manufacturers. “We cannot afford to allow China to get away with manipulative trade practices that hurt American companies and cost us jobs.” Read more »

Starbucks breaking new ground in mobile payments

By Oregon Small Business Association

Ordering a double-shot latte is easier and faster these days using Starbucks’ mobile payment program. Even before its recent $25 million investment in Square, the San Francisco mobile payments startup, Starbucks had been processing a million mobile-phone transactions per week.

The Seattle-based coffee chain released its first mobile app in September 2009 which helped customers find stores, learn about coffee, and get nutrition information. In January 2011 the chain released a more powerful Starbucks Card mobile app, which also let consumers pay at the register by waving a bar code on their phone’s screen in front of a scanner. Customers have been able to load Starbucks’ digital prepaid card with an existing credit card. Read more »

Oregon’s job creators


Consumer Cellular opens 650 jobs

When T-Mobile closed its call center earlier this year, 359 workers lost their jobs. Those employees were offered positions at other T-Mobile locations. But now they have another option. Consumer Cellular, a Portland-based wireless and cellphone service provider, leased the 77,000 square-foot call center and plans to eventually hire 650 people to staff the facility. “We are very proud to announce that we are now officially operational with our first wave of nearly 50 employees,” said Consumer Cellular CEO John Marick in a statement. “We will continue to hire in waves and phases so that we can effectively train our new employees..” Read more »

OSBA spreads word on important ballot measures

OSBA President TJ Reilly speaking at a dinner event in Portland this week while detailing important business ballot measures on the November ballot.
By Oregon Small Business Association,

TJ emphasized Measure 79 the ban on real estate transfer taxes which if local real estate transfer taxes spread to other counties would greatly increase the cost of Oregon commercial property which is already suffering from vacancy problems in this economic slow down. TJ also highlighted Measure 84 which repeals Oregon’s death tax. Small businesses are hit hard when a business owner dies and tries to pass on the business to his/her family. TJ also highlighted the measure which takes the business kicker income tax refund. Businesses have appreciated the refund checks when state government over-collects tax revenue and voters have affirmed the kicker issue at the ballot box several times.

Consumer rating shows nation’s favorite businesses

Consumer rating shows nation’s favorite businesses
By Oregon Small Business Association

Red Lobster is more satisfactory to American consumers than any other restaurant this year; in fact, it earned the highest score in the 18th annual ratings of the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Americans love their pizza, too; Papa John’s also earned an 83% satisfaction rating. Meanwhile, United Airlines remains stubbornly unpopular. Only 62% of customers were satisfied this year, and United hasn’t earned a rating above 70% since 1996.Even the overpriced, bureaucratically inept Postal Service got a 75%. But apparently United is the McDonald’s of airlines: like United, McDonald’s got the lowest rating in its class. But though nobody likes either, everybody uses both. Sometimes actions speak louder than satisfactions. Read more »

Right to vote on county transportation projects is needed for Clackamas

By Oregon Small Business Association,

The Oregon Small Business Association supports common sense efforts to add public input into important and expensive decisions on public transit rail projects.   OSBA supports the Clackamas County measure 3-401 to require public approval of light rail projects which is set for a September 18th vote.

We see this issue play out in California where their rail project proposal has been mismanaged by tens of billions of dollars and has gained national attention for being a project of epic pork-barrel proportions for the benefit of politicians at the expense of the population is was originally meant to serve. California’s rail system was estimated to cost $68.4 billion which is a staggering 52% higher than the $45 billion estimated in 2008. Read more »

Mobile connectivity is essential link in business

By TJ Reilly
Oregon Small Business Association

Small businesses today rely upon mobile connectivity more than ever before. Just as consumer demand for smartphones and tablets has skyrocketed, small businesses also increasingly depend on mobile devices for everything from daily operations to connecting with their customers and clients. Read more »

New Boeing plane arrives in Portland. The road ahead.

By Oregon Small Business Association

The 787 Dreamliner, an all-new airplane design with advanced features increasing efficiency and improving air travel experience, stopped in Portland for two days at Boeing’s Paint Hangar at Portland International Airport. The Dreamliner is uses 20% less fuel than previous models and with already over 800 orders represents a giant opportunity for the NW airline manufacturer.

However, three problems loom on the horizon for Boeing to overcome in order to achieve another historic success. Read more »