Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Meet Your Neighbors

IMS Electronic Recycling

This morning, we sat down with David Palenshus, operations manager for IMS Electronics Recycling, for a discussion about how IMS can benefit local businesses. We also got a behind-the-scenes look at the recycling facility.

Click Here to View Video

Editor’s Note: Due to Christmas and New Year’s, Just Business will resume on January 5th, 2011. Happy holidays everyone!

► On the Record

“Our expectations are not unrealistic and we offer our partnership in working with the 2011 Legislature toward solutions to brighten our economic future.”

--Ginger Metcalf, executive director of Identity Clark County, upon presenting her organization’s legislative agenda (partnered with the Columbia River Economic Development Council) to the southwest Washington Legislative Delegation.

Business From Around the Northwest

Growth and its discontents: Looking inside the census, The Seattle Times

Farmington State Bank thrives by sticking to its rural roots, The Spokesman Review

Tourism is up in Southern Oregon, Mail Tribune

Friday, December 17, 2010

Reporter's Notebook

Steve McDonagh can be reached at

Breakfast Notes

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the cuts that were going to have to be made at the state level if we are to keep Washington from going the way of California, Michigan, New York and other bankrupt or nearly bankrupt states. At this morning’s legislative breakfast, we heard from our local state representatives who will be charged with that very mission. In fact, they have already started a dialogue with an agreement last week between the legislature and the governor to an initial round of cuts.

Now comes the hard part.

While the tone was mostly somber (yet hopeful) that the cuts can be made, it was also clear that some will stand on their ideological positions even in a time of few choices. I applaud those who do not surrender their ideals and values in the face of tough times. However, I hope all our representatives know that now is not the time to insist on “my way or the highway” (we have seen where that gets the US Congress).

This morning’s legislative breakfast also made it abundantly clear that we have a smart, capable and dedicated delegation representing the people of Southwest Washington and Clark County. Let’s hope they can work with the representatives from the rest of the state to keep Washington solvent and ready to move back into the black.

Friday Fish Wrap (with the usual homage to Herb Caen)

Scott Firstenberg enjoying the coffee cake but ducking out early… Ryan Golze extolling the sun and fun of Cabo… Rep. Jim Moeller leaving no doubt about where he stands on the CRC… Troy Van Dinter still lamenting the demise of the Cowboys… John Bockmier doing his Will Ferrell in ELF imitation (minus the goofy shoes)… The big Duck Wayne Clementson proudly wearing the Green and Yellow and Gray and Black and… Steve Kizer pushing ‘em to the limit in the weight room… Kim Capeloto back on the circuit as one of the paying public… Kelly Love auditioning for dialing for dollars while corralling a passel of politicos… Hal Dengerink hiding in the back of the room… Sharon Pesut questioning (or pointing out?) the age of a certain writer… Mike True agreeing to lunch… Bob Durgan promising pints… The Fastest Banker in the World wearing a sweater, because after all, it is Friday! Have a great weekend, a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

► On the Record

“Today’s consumers, investors and business partners want to put their money where their values are, and employees want to apply their talents and energy where they know they will be valued…”

-- Choose People Founder Kris Boesch, upon recognizing the Neenan Company this week as the first Choose People Company – a highly discerning and scientifically validated certification that identifies companies where employees feel good about coming to work.

Business From Around the Northwest

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

► On the Record

“We want to get development back to 40 percent of the economy here and to utilize the talented people we have living here.”

-- Ron Arp, of Amplify Group, during his address to the Rotary Club of Vancouver regarding the Portland-Vancouver USA, Land Here , Live Here campaign.

Reporter's Notebook

Nicholas Shannon Kulmac can be reached at

A touch of school, without the homework

Do you ever miss walking into a classroom and sitting down for an engaging lecture? I know many of you are probably thinking that’s a pretty silly question, but remove the stress, the grades, the deadlines and the homework. Now are you interested?

Last week, I attended my second “WSU Vancouver Chancellor’s Seminar Series.” If you’re out of the loop, these seminars consist of an in-depth conversation about a topic of current interest or concern. A guest speaker kicks off the conversation with a lunchtime presentation and participants are encouraged to ask questions and share ideas afterwards.

Last week’s seminar, called “Regaining Control of the Food System,” featured Philip Howard, assistant professor at Michigan State University. Cathy Insler, director of supply chain for Burgerville, followed Howard’s lecture with a look at how the Vancouver-based restaurant chain sources their products.

Not only was this seminar interesting, but it served as a refreshing reminder that education can and should be fun! It’s also a good opportunity to network with fellow business leaders, elected officials and community members in attendance.

WSU Vancouver is certainly not alone in understanding that a demand for these educational, engaging conversations exists. Clark College has a quarterly “Faculty Speaker Series,” and down in Portland, OMSI has been teaming up with McMenamins (at the Bagdad and Mission Theater) to host “Science Pub.”

Whether you’re looking for the opportunity to network, learn something new or to plan a new kind of “date night,” I encourage everyone to experience one of these seminars.

And don’t worry; there will not be a pop quiz on Monday morning.

Upcoming lectures:

Monday, January 3rd: “How to Repair a Damaged Brain: From Lumps of Sugar to Spheres of Stem Cells.” OMSI Science Pub at the Bagdad Theater in Portland (these often sell out so come early).

Tuesday, January 18th: “Cataclysms on the Columbia: The Great Missoula Floods.” OMSI Science Pub at the Mission Theater (these often sell out so come early).

Tuesday, February 8th: “International Education within and from China: Emerging Opportunities, Challenges, and Constraints.” Lectured by Professor James M. Craven, at Clark College.

Friday, March 4th: “Economic Recovery and Southwest Washington.” Lectured by Scott Baily, regional economist for the Washington State Employment Security Department, at WSU Vancouver.

Business From Around the Northwest

Friday, December 10, 2010

► On the Record

“When the whole supply chain comes together we have the power to bring sustainable food to scale.”

-- Cathy Insler, Burgerville’s supply chain director, at Friday’s WSU Vancouver Chancellor’s Seminar entitled “Regaining Control of the Food System.”

Reporter's Notebook

John McDonagh can be reached at

Study Here, Remain Here

For decades, Clark County and Southwest Washington sent our best and brightest students away to get their college degrees. In fact, prior to Washington State University establishing a presence here in 1989, there was no local option for a four-year degree.

So off they went.

Since that time, we’ve learned many of those students find opportunities in other states and don’t come back. That’s a significant fact in light of a study released last week by ECONorthwest of Portland.

The study, commissioned by five Oregon-based business groups on the health of the region’s economy, tied Clark County’s economic condition directly to the health of the Portland economy. Researchers pointed out more than half-a-dozen factors contributing to the current economic conditions from per capita income, to education and quality of life. They compared the Portland market to three benchmark communities: Seattle, Denver and Minneapolis. Other than quality of life, which the study says is insufficient on its own to sustain a recovery effort, the Portland region is significantly behind in all of the other areas.

Education (specifically, funding for primary and secondary education) was one of the factors identified in the study as a reason the region has fared so poorly during the recession compared to the benchmark communities.

While the ECONorthwest study didn’t specifically address the percentage of the workforce with a college or higher-level education, that is another factor experts are saying relates directly to the reason Clark County is slow to recover jobs.

Slightly more than one-fourth of adults 25 and older in Clark County have a four-year degree or better. In the Portland-metro area, that percentage is more than 10 percent higher (though at just over 36 percent, it is lower than the benchmark cities).

The message: the better-educated remain employed and find work sooner than those with less education. Certainly not an unfamiliar message here, in fact it’s exactly the message used by advocates for WSU Vancouver nearly 25 years ago.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what percentage of folks graduated from high school here and went off to college without returning to Clark County?

Clearly, one of the reasons for not returning is a lack of job opportunity, even in good times. However, that points to another of the study’s findings, that the region has a number of strong traded-sector industries with room to grow. That bodes well for Clark County.

Whether these industries are here and looking for growing room, or they are recruited here because of our location relative to the Pacific Rim, Clark County has the land, the transportation infrastructure, a vibrant port and a ready workforce now supported by a four-year, research university.

Clark County is well positioned to be much less dependent on the rest of the region as we recover from the past two years. As we are successful, we will create more and more reasons for the best and brightest to study here and to remain here.

Business From Around the Northwest

C. Ore. vineyard also serves as tourist attraction, The Bend Bulletin (via

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

► On the Record

“A flat forecast requires the county to continue managing expenses at recession levels until we see more evidence of recovery in southwest Washington,”

--Clark County Administrator Bill Barron upon sending a new budget proposal to the Board of Clark County Commissioners.

Meet Your Neighbors

American Clean Air Systems

We sat down with Mike Huntsinger, vice president of American Clean Air Systems, to learn how a simple duct cleaning can have a huge impact on a business’s bottom line.

See what was hiding inside the ducts at the Vancouver Business Journal when our office was used as the guinea pig!

Business From Around the Northwest

Friday, December 3, 2010

► On the Record

“The state’s budget outlook is as grim as I’ve ever seen it in my 26 years working in public education. If the worst-case scenario materializes, we will need to brace ourselves for some really difficult conversations and choices. We will need to think strategically about all of our resources to ensure they continue to support student achievement.”

--Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Steve Webb

Reporter's Notebook

Steve McDonagh can be reached at

Focus on the necessary

This week Senator Joe Zarelli set the table, if you will, for what will be coming at us from Olympia over the next several months. All in all, it was a fairly well reasoned and responsible approach. Not everyone (including me) agrees with 100% of the cuts proposed by the Republican Senate Caucus, nor is there ever going to be 100% agreement about what we need to cut. One thing we can and must all agree on is that cuts to the state budget are a necessity.

We have been hearing it from businesses for the past three years: “Let’s get back to basics and identify core competencies and necessary costs” – these are the steps private business has taken to deal with a shrinking and stagnant economy. Clark County and the city of Vancouver are no different – both have made difficult budget cuts.

Yesterday, I received an email from the Vancouver School District about the effect of past cuts and warning of more to come. It’s time for Olympia to do the same. And while the state operates and funds many worthwhile programs, in a time of disappearing revenue it is necessary to reduce or cut programs that are not essential to the operation of state government or the well-being of the impoverished and disabled.

As business owners and state residents, it’s your job to let the legislature know which programs you think are necessary and why. Focusing on the necessary instead of railing against the unnecessary, will keep lawmakers focused on the goal at hand, instead of getting wrapped up in the emotional arguments for various laudable but perhaps unnecessary programs.

We all have a different perspective and we aren’t going to agree on all of the cuts that will eventually be made. But in the end, if we provide constructive input and keep the focus on funding basic, core and necessary state functions, we’ll get a budget that will serve us all well. We’ll end up with a budget that can help us come out of this “recession” in better shape than many other states.

Friday Fish Wrap (with the usual homage to Herb Caen)

Nelson Holmberg firing the first salvo in the “email Apple Cup”… …”just saying”….. Meanwhile Arch Miller proudly waving the Orange and Black as he drives around town……Jason Beatty a purple and gold photoshop wizard……Stephanie Hadley getting the word out….Kenny Vance running (figuratively) roughshod over Clark County’s Finest ….. Temple Lentz, busy, busy, busy,.. too busy, …… Greg Siefert keeping the masses informed…… Shay Shinall thanking for well deserved recognition…. Mike Pomeroy praising the promised land and looking for another…… Lisa Lowe and Don Russo spreading holiday cheer whilst working the room…..Things looking upward at Skyward??..... Big Al’s turning bars into stadiums….. GO COUGS !!

Editor’s note: Don’t forget GO DUCKS! One more win to go. :)

Web Developer's note: Go Dawgs!

Business From Around the Northwest

Crisis gives legislature 3 big chances to create jobs,

Rentec Direct finds success, Mail Tribune

Jobless rate rises to 9.8 percent as job growth slows, Associated Press via the Spokesman Review

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

► On the Record

"There are plenty of forecasters who believe that private construction starts will emerge in time to fill the void created by the end of stimulus, but the recovery of privately financed construction has yet to become apparent."

-- Associated Builders & Contractors Inc. Chief Economist Anirban Basu, following today’s report from the U.S. Census Bureau that private nonresidential construction spending (nationwide) slipped 0.7 percent in October, and is down 20.7 percent from a year ago.

Meet Your Neighbors

Pearl Point Coaching

We recently sat down with Success Coach Barbara Hilkey, owner of Pearl Point Coaching, for a discussion about employee burnout in the workplace and how employers and managers can combat it.

Business From Around the Northwest

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

► On the Record

“Though the retail industry is on stronger footing than last year, companies are closely watching key economic indicators like employment and consumer confidence before getting too optimistic that the recession is behind them.”

--National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay

Meet Your Neighbors

Chuck’s Produce & Street Market

We sat down with Hector Jimenez, grocery manager at the newly-opened Chuck’s Produce & Street Market on Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard in Vancouver, to talk about the store’s business model and some of the challenges the locally-owned business is dealing with.

Editor’s note:

Due to the holiday, our Just Business email will resume on Wednesday, November 29th.

Happy Thanksgiving! –The Vancouver Business Journal Staff

Business From Around the Northwest

Searching for solutions in Washington budget crisis, The Seattle Times

Swelling budget deficit looms over lawmakers,

Owner transforms mill into retail center, The Register Guard

Friday, November 19, 2010

► On the Record

“Downtown Vancouver is having a renaissance of creativity and opportunity. [With] property owners investing significant dollars in building improvements to attract new tenants, it’s clear that downtown is on the move and open for business.”

--Lee Rafferty, executive director of Vancouver’s downtown association, on a new photography studio and consignment shop opening their doors on Main Street in Vancouver.

Reporter's Notebook

Nicholas Shannon Kulmac can be reached at

Washington State: The New Economy?

Charles Darwin once wrote, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent – but the ones most responsive to change” – that’s the idea behind a report released this week from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) entitled “The 2010 State New Economy Index.”

Like many economic indexes, this is a report that pits the 50 states against one another by weighing a variety of economic indicators. However, due to the nature of the 26 indicators authors of the report used, this index stands out.

The report, which has the state of Washington ranked number two overall, was released to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week – a worldwide initiative aimed at inspiring young people to embrace imagination, innovation and creativity.

Authors of the study said it “measures the extent to which state economies are knowledge-based, globalized, entrepreneurial, IT-driven and innovation-based. In other words, to what degree state economies’ structures and operations match the ideal structure of the new economy.”

So how exactly did Washington end up second only to Massachusetts?

The authors of the report said, “Washington scores high due not only to its strength in software (in no small part due to Microsoft) and aviation (Boeing), but also because of the entrepreneurial hotbed of activity that has developed in the Puget Sound region, and very strong use of digital technologies by all sectors.”

The state of Washington appeared in the top five in a number of indicators including but not limited to:

- The value of exports per manufacturing and service worker (3)

- Internet users as a share of population (3)

- Percentage of farmers using the Internet for business (1)

- Scientists and engineers as a percentage of the workforce (2)

- Movement toward a green economy (3)

Robert Litan, vice president of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation had this to say about the results of the study:

“The United States is lagging, and that lack of innovation-based vitality has contributed to our continuing recession,” said Litan. ”States need to concentrate on achieving new economy success factors and providing the entrepreneurial resources and access that are critical to boosting competitiveness within the global marketplace.”

Go to to read the report in full.

Business From Around the Northwest

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

► On the Record

“This is exceptional news for the city of Vancouver and our citizens. The difficult budget decisions made during the past two years were the right financial steps at the right time. This independent assessment by the rating agencies validates our extensive efforts to refocus and prioritize city services, based on what the community values most, within the resources we have.”

-- Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes on the Standard & Poor's recently announced credit rating upgrade for the city of Vancouver. Upgraded credit ratings generally translate into lower bond rates, providing savings to the city as a whole.

Meet Your Neighbors

Peter Gallin, executive chef/owner of Applewood Restaurant & Bar

The Vancouver Business Journal gets a behind-the-scenes look at the new Applewood Restaurant in Southeast Vancouver; Owner Peter Gallin talks about some of the challenges of relocating a business in today’s economy.

Business From Around the Northwest

Housing market sheds jobs, The Register Guard

Coal Industry Seeks to Export Through Wash. State, Associated Press (Via ABC News)

Friday, November 12, 2010

► On the Record

"We will continue our relentless efforts to innovate and improve efficiency. However, the need for changes to legislation, regulations and labor contracts has never been more obvious,"

– United States Postal Service Chief Financial Officer Joe Corbett on mail service budget problems.

Meet Your Neighbors: Cano Real Estate

The Vancouver Business Journal sits down with Nathan Cano of Cano Real Estate for a discussion about the local housing market and where it's headed.

The Revenue Game on

As the economy continues on the road to recovery and stabilization, businesses everywhere are looking to bring their revenues back to a sustainable level through organization and optimization.

The Revenue Game, a new feature online at explores the reality of today’s economy and the best practices of businesses committed to serving their customers and increasing revenues. Log on today and learn how your company can win at The Revenue Game.

Business From Around the Northwest

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

► On the Record

“Our effort is to free up the free market. Tell us how we can make things better for you. After you’ve told us, tell others in Olympia and here in Southwest Washington.”

-- Washington State Representative Ed Orcutt, speaking at a Washington Policy Center small business forum in Vancouver on Wednesday.

Reporter's Notebook

Nicholas Shannon Kulmac can be reached at

A lesson learned

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on this year’s recipient of the Kyle W. Corwin Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Stan Freidberg graciously accepted the prestigious award yesterday afternoon during the Vancouver Business Journal’s Accomplished & Under 40 award ceremony. In his 37-year practice at The Vancouver Clinic, the cardiologist saved countless lives by helping patients with their heart health. In retirement, Stan has been a regular at the Free Clinic of Southwest Washington and at Project Access Clark County.

If you weren’t one of the 230 or so in the audience, you missed an acceptance speech full of humility. In fact, the Dr. talked more about those who have helped him along the way than his own accomplishments. Stan spoke of individuals in the community that served him as mentors and sources of inspiration. And the remarkable part – one that I believe we should all take note of – is that the individuals the doctor spoke of were not solely from his youth. Some, he explained, had not come into his life until recently.

Even in retirement, this accomplished, wise and experienced medical pioneer seeks the advice and expertise of others. Does it matter that he’s already considered an expert in his field? No. Does it matter that he has greatly surpassed the vast majority of his colleagues in experience? Not at all.

Given his stature, no one would question Dr. Freidberg if he simply stopped listening to the council of others and relied on his personal pool of knowledge alone. But Stan is clearly not that way. He has no plateau. His cup is never full.

Dr. Freidberg should be an example to us all for a number of reasons. His career accomplishments are vast and his commitment to giving back to the community is commendable. But what should not go overlooked is his never-ending willingness to listen, learn and to be taught by people from all walks of life, young and old.

I believe Henry David Thoreau summed it up right when he said, “To know that we know what we know, and that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.”

Business From Around the Northwest

Friday, November 5, 2010

► On the Record

“The growth of Clark County remains very strong and this type of investment provides a new look, new energy and new opportunity to keep up with retailer demand as well as benefit our loyal customers who rely on us for a quality shopping experience”

-- Paige Allen, Westfield Vancouver General Manager, on plans to improve and expand the city’s largest shopping center.

Meet Your Neighbors

Today we sit down with Dustin Klinger, partner at Miller Nash LLP Attorneys at Law, for an informational discussion about making investments in foreclosed property.

Business From Around the Northwest

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

► On the Record

“Nationally, we need a new path created for [Internet] startups to go public. Locally, we need small pools of money to aid startups. This is the cycle that makes it possible for small business to create jobs.”

--William Kallman, CEO of (Woodland, WA), in response to a question during Wednesday’s Vancouver Rotary meeting about how we can pull ourselves out of this economic malaise.

Reporter's Notebook

John McDonagh can be reached at

The quiet before the storm

For the most part, the election is over. A few races still hang in the balance, but the majority have been decided. The next few days will likely be pretty quiet, and then the real work begins.

Oh, what an interesting set of results we have.

On the partisan list we have Democrats and Republicans each winning six positions (two races were too close to call at deadline). Even with the “change is needed” mantra being repeated across the country, eight of nine local incumbents were re-elected with just one race undetermined.

Let’s not forget about the “no tolls” bunch. By our count, eight candidates ran on an anti-tolling platform regarding the yet to be finalized Columbia River Crossing. Of those candidates, just one was victorious, six fell to defeat and one race is still too close to call.

Looking at how the initiatives faired, a two-thirds majority result should serve as a sign for the state legislature to use that same percentage when deciding to raise taxes without a vote of the people. Tax and spend measures all went down in defeat, including a crushing rejection for the proposed income tax on high-wage earners.

Voters were also convinced the state should stay in the liquor and insurance business. A measure that would have opened liquor sales to private retailers failed to pass, as did legislation to give employers the chance to purchase workers compensation policies from private insurers.

So what does all this mean?

For one, voters know we’re in a fight and feel it’s better to continue with the folks we know, rather than risk it to a newcomer. It also means taxes don’t play well in a recessionary economy – a message we hope the returning legislators remember. Finally, Tuesday’s election shows we’ll need more creative solutions to deliver the services voters want from government, as resources continue to shrink.

Business From Around the Northwest

Make it work, voters tell government, The Seattle Times

Lt. Governor Owen to promote Washington state in China, India, The Office of Lt. Governor Brad Owen

Reaching the World, Mail Tribune

Friday, October 29, 2010

► On the Record

“Communication is the most important element of any effort.”

-- Ron Arp, of Clark County based Amplify Group, receiving the 2010 Ron Schmidt Community Involvement Award at the 2010 PRSA Spotlight Awards Showcase for his involvement in the regional branding campaign “Land Here, Live Here.”

Reporter's Notebook

John McDonagh can be reached at

Behind the misleading mud-slinging

For the moment let’s accept the fact that negative campaigning is effective in positioning one candidate against another. Of course by “effective,” we’re assuming more people will be convinced to cast a vote for the candidate who’s not being vilified by the negative campaign.

Now let’s ask the question: What if both candidates are engaged in the same negative positioning? Will it still be an effective way to garner votes? Or will it cause the electorate to become entrenched behind the candidate they originally favored?

This may be the perfect campaign season to find out.

In both the U.S. Senate race and the 3rd Congressional District seat, the chosen approach has been to malign and vilify the opposition. In fact, just finding out what each candidate stands for can be quite the chore.

It’s as if we are asked to believe it’s less important to know what one candidate brings to the position than it is to understand the catastrophe it would be if voters elected the opposition candidate.

How different are the opponents in these two races?

Here are two statements from the candidates running for the 3rd Congressional District seat. See if you can you identify which statement is from Democrat Denny Heck, and which is from Republican Jamie Herrera.

“I’ll do everything in my power to make sure the federal government bears the lion’s share of responsibility for completing the Columbia River I-5 Bridge.”

Compared to:

“I look forward to being a strong advocate for this project both in Congress, and right here in Southwest Washington working with local, regional and state leaders to get the job done.”

The statements are more or less the same, yet the negative rhetoric we’ve heard in this contest suggests the candidates are miles apart on this and many other issues.

A similar lack of distinction can be found behind all the mud-slinging in the U.S. Senate race as well.

Take the issue of health care for example. Republican Dino Rossi is on the record saying the health care package that passed this past year should be repealed. Rossi points out that her opponent, Democrat Patty Murray, helped author the bill.

Now for a couple of statements from the candidates on what they believe health care reform should include:

“Lower health insurance costs… a greater variety of health insurance plans, and give people choice…”

Compared to:

“Provide more choice and stability for families and businesses.”

Admittedly, these statements are out of context – something we’re too often accused of doing in the media. I do it, however, to make a point.

Millions of dollars are being spent on negative, demonizing and often untruthful (or at the very least, misleading) campaign rhetoric to distinguish the candidates. Maybe they do it because the differences in the end are not that great.

These four candidates all contend that small business in America is what needs the attention and support of the federal government. Unfortunately, they are all so involved in painting an evil picture of one another. Knowing the lesser of those evils is anyone’s guess.

Business From Around the Northwest

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

► On the Record

"Today, no business is immune from cyber attacks. The first step is to know the landscape of cybercrime and raise awareness before launching the right counter attacks."

-- Cyber-technology expert Dr. Rocky Termanini, who is scheduled to speak in the Foster Hall Auditorium at Clark College on Friday, November 5th. The free event begins at noon and is open to the public.

Meet Your Neighbors

Nicholas Shannon Kulmac can be reached at

We’ve Got Your Back

In today's economy, keeping track of who the players are can be a
difficult task. That’s why we’ve introduced a new video feature
for Just Business called Meet Your Neighbors.

Today, we spotlight “We’ve Got Your Back,” a new Vancouver Chiropractic office located in the Grand Central shopping center.

Business From Around the Northwest

Friday, October 22, 2010

► On the Record

“We look to support our local companies in every way possible. Whether it’s our credit card processor or the people that deliver our paper products… It’s not always the cheapest, but keeping the money here benefits the whole community.”

-- Jamie Erdman, general manager of Thatcher’s Coffee, on the importance of buying local.

Reporter's Notebook

In the October 1st edition of the Vancouver Business Journal, we told you why we believe Initiative 1082 would be good for business.

I-1082 would allow companies to purchase Industrial Insurance (workers’ compensation) from private insurers rather than continuing with the state run monopoly.

Recently, Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen weighed in on the issue. The following is a look at what he had to say.

I-1082 – A win for business
By Brad Owen, Lieutenant Governor

During my 34 years serving the public in various capacities, I’ve heard a lot of complaints about a lot of things from unhappy taxpayers. As a public official, I know you can’t make all the people happy all of the time and fielding the vast array of complaints is an occupational hazard.

But there is one complaint I hear more than any other, and it has to do with the state Department of Labor & Industries’ (L&I) management of the state workers’ compensation system. People complain about the inefficiency in claims processing. They complain about the high costs. They complain the agency is unresponsive. The list goes on.

What really frustrates the people who complain about L&I is the fact that they can’t do anything about it. They can’t express their dissatisfaction by taking their business elsewhere because L&I holds a monopoly on workers’ compensation in this state.

In a nutshell, they feel powerless. And the truth is they are powerless. That’s why I hope voters will approve Initiative 1082.

I-1082 will simply end L&I’s monopoly and allow private insurers to sell workers’ comp coverage to businesses. This means people will no longer be powerless to do anything about their dissatisfaction with the state agency. L&I will have to compete with private insurers in order to stay in business – that means handling claims efficiently, keeping costs under control and making sure customers are happy.

I know a thing or two about keeping customers happy. Before my life in politics I owned a small business. If I didn’t keep my customers happy they would simply go to my competitors. I don’t need to explain the motivation that provides.

I’ve believed L&I’s lack of competition has been a problem for a long time. In my early days as a legislator, I supported legislation to allow competition in the workers’ comp marketplace. My firsthand experience in small business, combined with a laundry list of complaints registered by my constituents, convinced me that business owners and workers would benefit if L&I faced competition from private insurers. The bill didn’t pass, but after all these years I still believe it’s a good idea whose time (I hope) has finally come.

If I-1082 passes, L&I will, for the first time in its 100 year history, be forced to compete. However, despite its many flaws the initiative doesn’t do away with the state agency. Businesses satisfied with the current system can keep their workers’ comp insurance with the state. But those unhappy with L&I can shop for better prices and better service.

The special interests opposing I-1082 think this choice is a bad idea. They argue the private insurance companies from which we all purchase our health, home, life and automobile coverage are not trustworthy enough to sell workers’ comp coverage. The opponents of I-1082 expect voters to believe companies that sell these other lines of insurance will somehow be catastrophic for workers’ comp just because they are profit-motivated. It simply defies logic.

Are private, for-profit insurance companies perfect? Not by any means. Are they a better option than our current government monopoly? You bet.

If you are unhappy with your private insurer, you can give your business to another insurer. You have a choice. If you are unhappy with L&I, you have no choice. That’s why I’ve received more complaints about L&I than any other state agency.

In addition, being motivated by profit is not the evil thing opponents of the initiative make it out to be. A private insurance company that relies on profit to stay in business simply has a bottom line to meet. If they don’t control costs, operate efficiently and meet that bottom line, they’re out of business. And let us not forget, private insurance companies must also provide good service and keep prices competitively low. If they don’t, they lose their customers.

Our current “non-profit” state-run monopoly system means L&I has no such fears. L&I can’t go out of business. The agency doesn’t have to worry about losing customers or running out of money. When L&I needs more money, they can just increase taxes on their “customers.” And that is exactly what the agency has done, and will continue to do if we don’t pass I-1082.

In these lean times, we can’t afford to continue to prop up a failing government monopoly with increasingly scarce taxpayer dollars. Voting yes on I-1082 will give the private sector the opportunity to do better what government has been doing inefficiently for almost a century. It’s about time.

You can contact Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen at

Business From Around the Northwest

Washington vs. Oregon, Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

► On the Record

“Despite businesses going through some tough times, volunteerism has not. People in this community are seeing the need and finding creative ways to meet it.”

Launda Carroll, president/CEO of Innovative Services NW during Tuesday night’s 2010 Care Affair fundraiser

Reporter's Notebook

Nicholas Shannon Kulmac can be reached at

Introducing the 2010-2011 Women in Business Directory

We hope you can join us this Thursday for a fun evening of networking as we release our newest publication, the 2010-2011 Women in Business Directory.

It has been years since the metro area had a business directory dedicated to women-owned and managed businesses. With nearly half of businesses in the northwest owned by women, we’re excited to be bringing this to the marketplace.

It happens tomorrow evening (Thursday, October 21st), 6 PM – 8 PM, Red Cross Building/E. B. Hamilton Hall 605 Barnes, Vancouver at the Fort Vancouver National Site.

Cost is just $10.00 per person, advance registration is recommended by going to

Can’t make it? Watch for a copy of the Directory in your October 29th edition of the Vancouver Business Journal.

Meet Your Neighbors

In today’s economy, keeping track of who the players are can be a difficult task. With that in mind, we’re introducing a new video feature in today’s Just Business called Meet Your Neighbors.

We hope this feature helps your company stay informed about the businesses around us.

Today, we spotlight a brand new business – Neighbors Market in downtown Vancouver.

The market doesn’t open until next week, so we wanted to get a sneak preview of what they’re all about.

Business From Around the Northwest

High-end housing, low-end demand, Then Wenatchee World

Friday, October 15, 2010

► On the Record

“The goal is to educate so that consumers can make better choices. Consumer
demand is the quickest way to bring change.”

-- Washington State University’s Dr. Patricia Hunt, during a conversation about Bisphenol–A (BPA) and its link to reproductive health at Wednesday’s Chancellor’s Seminar Series on the campus of WSU Vancouver

Reporter's Notebook

Nick Shannon Kulmac can be reached at

Forbes ranks Washington fifth best state for business

From the weekend box office to the world of college football, everyone loves a good ranking. And by the looks of it, the folks at Forbes agree. Earlier this week, the financial news magazine published their annual list of “The Best States For Business And Careers.”

Forbes said the ranking measures six vital categories for businesses: costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. Business costs, which include labor, energy and taxes, are weighted the most heavily.

So how did Washington stack up? Pretty well, overall.

The evergreen state came in at number five, thanks in part to a strong labor supply, regulatory environment and positive growth prospect.

If you buy into these rankings or not, it should be noted that Washington was number two on the list last year. When that number came out, Governor Chris Gregoire was quick to respond.

“The ranking showcases the collaborative work of state and local agencies to promote economic development and grow jobs throughout Washington,” Gregoire said last year. “But make no mistake, we are not resting on our laurels. I pledge to continue to work closely with state, business and labor leaders to further improve our competitiveness climate and become the best state in the nation to do business.”

Time will tell whether the governor weighs in on this year’s list. In the meantime, let’s examine why we slipped to number five. Forbes said Washington’s economic climate was down slightly, but what really hurt us were business costs (28th) and quality of life (29th).

Not everyone in the northwest lost a spot or two on the list. Oregon jumped from number ten last year, to number six this year. And reaching out of the northwest, Utah received the top ranking for the first time. Virginia and North Carolina rounded out the top three.