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NFIB small business summit

Oregon Small Business Summit, Oct. 2-4
Entrepreneurial leaders from around state to convene in Bend
By Oregon NFIB

Annual Small Business Summit Oct. 2-4
Every year the NFIB/Oregon Small Business Summit gets better, and this year’s will be no exception. The 2011 gathering will be packed full of in-depth policy discussions and other important topics relating to small business.

Last year’s Summit drew members and guests from all over Oregon who discussed small business issues with State Sen. Chris Telfer and State Reps. Bruce Hanna, Dennis Richardson, Judy Stiegler, and Gene Whisnant. The keynote speaker, Jonathan Williams, director of tax and fiscal policy for the American Legislative Exchange Council and co-author of Rich States, Poor States, wowed attendees with brilliant analysis of where states across the country went wrong and why they find themselves in the dire straits they are in today. He also explained why ALEC’s economic forecast ranked Oregon near the bottom at 41. Read more »

NIKE movie-based shoes score big

NIKE shoes score big

Nike has produced 1500 pairs of replica shoes based on the pair that Michael J. Fox wore in the 1989 movie Back to the Future II. The shoes are available on Ebay until September 18. They have sold there for prices between $3,500 and $10,000. At a live auction last week, British rapper Tinie Tempah paid $37,500 for a pair. Read more »

A picture of the wildfires in Oregon and across America

NBC Nightly News and the National Interagency Fire Agency Center ran this wildfire chart this week that shows a large number of active wildfires across the American West. Oregonians across the state have been seeing evidence of the wildfires with increased smoke and haze in the sky over the past few weeks.

Farmers Markets Growing in Number, Popularity

USDA: Farmers Markets Growing in Number, Popularity
111 farmers markets currently operate in Oregon
By Oregon Small Business Association

The number of farmers markets selling fresh, locally and regionally grown produce grew significantly over the past year. According to the 2011 National Farmers Market Directory recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than a thousand new farmers markets were added this year, bringing the total reported number to 7,175—a 15 percent increase from 2010.

Well established in far West and Northeast states, farmers markets are rapidly catching on in popularity in other parts of the country. The biggest growth occurred in states as diverse as Alaska, Texas, Indiana, South Dakota, and Colorado. California currently has the most farmers markets at 729. According to the Oregon Farmers’ Markets Association, there are currently 111 farmers markets operating across Oregon—well behind North Carolina, which has 217 to round out the top 10 list of states with the most farmers markets. Read more »

Losing the Columbia Gorge View Point Inn

Fire and Financial Woes Close Historic View Point Inn

An accidental fire at the historic View Point Inn and Restaurant overlooking the Columbia River Gorge left the Inn’s future in limbo. The fire apparently started when a spark from the chimney ignited the roof on July 10, closing the Inn indefinitely. Co-owner Geoff Thompson and his partner, Angelo Simione, hoped to rebuild the Inn, but financial woes quickly quashed their dream.

Read more »

Portland takes up new technology for parkins meters

Portland takes up new technology for parking meters
By Oregon Small Business Association

Beginning in August, the Pearl District will become the first local community to experiment with a mobile parking solution that allows customers to pay-to-park via their cell phone. Some have expressed concerns about consumer privacy and law enforcements’ potential use of the recorded information. Theoretically, Parkmobile and other mobile parking solutions subject users to possible digital tracking, detailed information of users’ whereabouts and location habits that could be used against them or in ways they might not like. Already Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Andriod-based phone have come under attack from the public for not disclosing how those phones archive a user’s whereabouts.

Proponents of mobile parking acknowledge privacy concerns but believe that enacting laws to restrict the use of the information gathered would help allay fears and breed trust among consumers and watchdog groups concerned about privacy.

Here’s how the new City pay-by-phone system is expected to works:

For a 35-cent transaction fee, users simply press a few buttons on their cell phone and presto—an authorized credit card payment is submitted for predetermined meter time. In the middle of an important meeting but your parking meter is about to expire? No problem. A text message warning will be sent directly to your phone. Simply press a few more buttons and meter time can be added for an additional 35 cents.

The 35-cent fee has been compared to an insurance policy for parking – a small fee to avoid a more costly ticket.

Consider it the cost of convenience.

No more walking to meters with baby in tow. No more rummaging through the ashtray for quarters. No more hustling back to the car only to find your windshield accessorized with a ticket. Parkmobile allows users to conveniently manage their parking situation through a smart phone app, a mobile browser, or by calling a number posted nearby on the street. Other benefits include the improved ability to pay only for the time needed and to pay for several cars through one account, as well as the possibility of “progressive fines” so that a ticket’s cost better reflects the extent of the infraction. San Francisco’s mobile parking program is even experimenting with curbside sensors that will notify drivers by phone of available parking spots.

Still in its early stages, mobile parking is catching on. Parkmobile currently operates in roughly 100 municipalities and communities. If all goes well with the Pearl District’s 90-day trial, Portland will actively consider long-term expansion plans.

Wal-Mart enters Portland area with property buys

Wal-Mart scooping up properties all over Portland area
By Oregon Small Business Association

Walmart has been prolifically purchasing properties in the Portland Metro area. Walmart plans to open as many as 17 of its smaller stores called Neighborhood Markets in the metro area where it has lacked a presence. While the retailer hasn’t officially announced its plans, Urban Works recently broke the news on its blog, saying that the first store will open along Highway 26 in the former Ashley Furniture store site at NW Cornell and 173rd in Beaverton.

Importantly, Walmart intends to fill the empty aisles left by other grocery stores that have vacated neighborhoods and store buildings perfect for one of its Neighborhood Markets. Using vacated store buildings rather than building new ones will allow Walmart to bypass the permitting and neighborhood approval processes that often slow or prevent willing stores from reaching resident consumers. Earlier this spring, The Oregonian reported that Walmart applied with the Portland Development Commission as part of the agency’s efforts to better serve tri-county communities whose residents don’t have access to nearby grocery stores.

According to Urban Works, Walmart already has deals for the following sites:

Raleigh Hills: Ex-Zupan’s@Beav.-Hillsdale Hwy & Apple Way
Lake Grove: Ex-Whole Foods @Boones Ferry Rd & Jean Rd.
West Linn: Ex-Lamb’s Thriftway @ Hwy 43 & Hidden Valley
Gresham: Ex-QFC @ 182nd & Powell
Gresham: Ex-Food 4 Less @ Powell & Burnside
Beaverton: Ex-Haggen’s @ SW Murray & 147th
Vancouver: Ex-Fred Meyer @ 4th Plain & Grand
Vancouver: Ex-Winco @ Hwy 500 & Thurston Way
Oregon City: Molalla Ave. & S. Beavercreek (land parcel)
Salmon Creek: 134th & I-5 (land parcel)
Tigard: SW Greenburg Rd. & Hwy 217
Oak Grove: Ex-G.I. Joe’s @ SE McLoughlin & Concord

As the Portland Development Commission has acknowledged, many local communities lack adequate access to convenient, fresh food markets – a deficiency Walmart’s expansion could help improve through the strategic growth of its Neighborhood Market.

California Considers Sales Tax Collection on Internet Companies

By Oregon Small Business Association,
A judicial loophole allows online-only retailers (such as Amazon.com) to avoid the rules of sales tax collection, resulting in a loss of $1.1 billion in taxes on internet and mail order sales last year in California according to the State Board of Equalization. The board estimates that enforcing sales tax collection on internet companies would result in an additional $786 million to the state general fund and $359 million to local governments. Over 20 years ago, at the dawn of the Internet, the government decided to exempt online retailers from collecting sales taxes in an effort to increase Internet sales. However, now that Internet companies are thriving, some states are considering ending the sales tax collection exemption.

In January, the California Legislature introduced Assembly Bill 153 to require some out-of-state retailers to collect taxes for California. Under current California law, out-of-state businesses selling goods to Californians through the internet or by mail order are not legally obligated to collect California sales tax at the time of sale unless the retailer also has a physical presence in the state.

Read more »

Phil Knight discusses life, business on Oprah

By Oregon Small Business Association,

One of Oregon’s most important business leaders, Phil Knight of NIKE, recently spoke before a national audience on the Oprah Winfrey show and discussed his life, his business and his success. Below are highlights of the interview:

On the Nike logo

KNIGHT: “Nike was the Greek goddess of victory. At that time we didn’t have the usual million dollars it would take to hire a professional marketing firm to create a design. As I was walking by the graphic arts department at Portland State University there was a student I overheard saying she didn’t know where she’d get the money for a dress to the prom. I said, “I have a job for you”. I paid her $2 an hour and she worked for 17 1/2 hours. So the swoosh cost us a total of $35. In 1980, when we went public, we gave her a few hundred shares of our stock which she’s held to this day, so she’s doing okay.”

On Michael Jordan Read more »

Wells Fargo, BofA banks shed Mortgage jobs

Wells Fargo cuts 1,900 mortgage jobs, Bank of America cuts 1,500
By Oregon Small Business Association

West coast bank Wells Fargo cut 1,900 employees from the mortgage unit nationwide last month. The layoffs were announced on March 23 and gave the employees 60 days’ notice. The San Francisco company gave the slowdown in the mortgage business as a reason for the cuts. Wells Fargo saw mortgage originations fall to $386 billion last year from $420 billion in 2009.

Many of the 1,900 employees were temporary hires that were brought in as consumer interests in refinancing surged when interest rates lowered. The cut represents less than 1 percent of Wells Fargo’s 272,000 work force, the San Francisco Business Times reports in their article here. Read more »