Friday, June 26, 2009

Reporter's Notebook

- Steve McDonagh can be contacted at

...over? The bottom? The recovery? A Reset?

Nobody seems to know where we are at or where we are going, but there does seem to be some consensus that we are at or near the bottom. But every time I hear we’ve hit it, another shoe drops – this thing has more shoes than Imelda Marcos! If it isn’t home builders or car manufacturers its whole states – California and 17 others, according to CNN, are going under.

The price of gas is going up while demand is going down. Speculators have returned to virtually every financial market. Local businesspeople say borrowing is still difficult. But at least two local bankers have told me they have seen some movement the past couple months from people have been sitting on the sidelines for the past year, and that their banks are making loans. Yes, loans.

What exactly does all this mean? It means don’t look at the stock market numbers on a daily basis or plan your business’ activity for the next quarter based on the price of oil today. Take time to look around our community and see what opportunities are presenting themselves to your business. Has a competitor pulled back or gone out of business? Have new tax incentives made it worthwhile to invest in capital improvements? The labor pool is swollen. Is there an opportunity to hire someone who might have commanded a salary beyond your ability to pay two years ago?

Even if we are in reset mode and not a recovery, there are opportunities out there. We need to keep our eyes and ears open and take advantage of them when they are presented. Vancouver is, for the most part, weathering this storm better than a lot of areas of the country. As California and others continue to struggle and/or fail, we should see renewed in-migration of people and businesses. These new residents and businesses will present a myriad of opportunities to existing businesses.

Stay the course and stay alert.