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