Stories by Courtney
Neighborhoods near tracks have felt positive, negative effects
PORTLAND — Love it or hate it, light rail's tracks are firmly embedded in plans for the Columbia River Crossing. But what will that mean for Vancouver?
CEO of Vancouver-based Audigy Group perseveres
Some executives learn corporate strategy in business school. Others master their industries on the job.
Panelists weigh in on county's decision to quit supporting CREDC
Clark County's economic future was the official theme this morning in Vancouver.
UL official: Changesahead for electric’s use, generation
The ways we buy and use electricity are in the midst of a dramatic shake-up, according to the Camas-based head of Underwriters Laboratories’ global wind energy efforts. And despite efforts to build this region’s eco-credentials, the Pacific Northwest is lagging behind a number of California and Midwest communities, Jason Hopkins said in a keynote address at Friday’s Clean Energy Industry Buyers & Sellers Forum in Portland.
Average in Vancouver is $3.95 per gallon, with some stations charging more than $4
Gasoline prices have climbed every day for 33 consecutive days, rising more than 40 cents to flirt with the $4 mark for a gallon of regular unleaded on Tuesday in Vancouver.
State officials will gather feedback on reforms in Vancouver on Feb. 21
State officials will be in Vancouver later this month to gather feedback about how to best put into force recent reforms to Washington’s workers’ compensation system.
Today’s paper includes a stand-alone Business section, but for the rest of the past week The Columbian’s business pages were a little harder to find. Monday through Saturday, our stocks page, local reporting, and coverage of national and global financial news now begin inside the Clark County section, as of last week.
Moving in the right direction Local businesses recorded some positive moves that yielded jobs, but unemployment persists
It’s deja vu, all over again.
2011 saw a 25 percent dip from the previous year
Clark County foreclosures dropped by 25 percent in 2011, though homeowners continued to run into trouble at far greater rates than before housing prices began to slide in 2006, according to a report issued Wednesday.
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President John C. Williams was the keynote speaker at Tuesday's 2012 Economic Forecast Breakfast, presented by The Columbian.
Economic forecast event will be Tuesday in Vancouver
What will it take to get Southwest Washington’s economy growing at a healthy clip, and what do national data say about how to get us there?
Small firms in metro area hired more, paid less in 2011
Portland-Vancouver area small business owners hired more people in 2011 than the year before, but paid them less, according to data released Tuesday, and hiring should continue to climb in 2012, with half of all small business owners planning to add jobs in the year ahead.
Victims of fraud, identity theft likely to be targeted again
It was bad enough when Bobby Worden was scammed five years ago by a telemarketer who offered credit card processing machines for his Clark County businesses.
Those issues’ continued struggles overshadowed several good developments for Clark County
Saying that high unemployment and a housing market in the doldrums overshadowed the good news stories of 2011 is kind of like saying the elephant in the room made it awfully hard to notice the mouse.
If “Portlandia” is a TV spoof about life in Portland, what do you call a Web-based spoof about life in Vancouver? “Vancouvria,” apparently.
If "Portlandia" was a TV spoof about life in Portland, what do you call a Web-based spoof about life in Vancouver?
When I first started working in downtown Vancouver, I was excited by all the lunch options within walking distance of the office. It doesn’t take long, however, for the lower-priced restaurants to start seeming stale and for the cost of the others to add up. Sandwich Box is a new addition to the affordable downtown lunch scene.
Fill the tank or Christmas stocking? High fuel costs mean residents, businesses face dilemma
To the old truism that nothing in life is guaranteed but death and taxes, a new certainty has been added in recent years: Grumbling about gasoline prices.
CEO allegedly paid illegal kickbacks to hedge fund
A Vancouver business and its CEO were sued by federal regulators Thursday for allegedly paying illegal kickbacks to a hedge fund and manipulating penny stock trades.
New eateries open as restauranteurs focus on cooperation to attract diners
Have Clark County restaurant owners finally found a recipe for financial success? The allure of Portland’s well-developed food scene has long drawn Southwest Washington residents across the river for dinner. Add a prolonged era of high unemployment, and local dining establishments have been dealt a double blow in recent years.
They will have access to nearly 40 employers, WorkSource database
Close to 40 employers looking to hire a few good veterans will be in Vancouver on Thursday. And former armed forces personnel also will be able to tap into the state WorkSource program’s database, which lists more than 500 openings across Clark County. The veteran’s job fair, sponsored by Vancouver WorkSource and hosted by the Washington Army National Guard, is one of dozens of similar events scheduled this month across the U.S. after a number of governors — including Washington’s — declared November “Hire-a-Vet Month.”
‘Shop local” is a rallying cry small stores usually direct at shoppers, regardless of where those stores buy their own supplies. But more and more often, businesses that want their customers to stay close to home are practicing what they preach.
All the recent headlines about what isn’t getting done in our nation’s capital left me wondering what overlooked legislation local business people should know about. Here’s a roundup of business-related congressional actions taken since summer — and why they matter to Clark County’s economy:
Three local high schools among six presenting plays in Portland
More than 200 teenagers — roughly half of them from Clark County — will converge on Portland this weekend to celebrate a theatrical tradition that dates back 500 years.
Speaker will share his outlook for the region
The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco will be the keynote speaker for The Columbian’s 2012 Economic Forecast Breakfast in January. The annual event at the Hilton Vancouver Washington is scheduled for Jan. 10 and will feature John Williams, who was named president and chief executive officer of the body in March.
Is the sun setting on Clark County solar opportunities? Or does the sector offer bright opportunities for job creation here? Already, the greater Portland-Vancouver metro area has a foothold in solar, thanks to SolarWorld in Hillsboro, Ore., which claims to be America’s largest, most advanced photovoltaic production site. Japanese corporation Sharp this year chose to base its U.S. solar operations in Camas. Vancouver silicon manufacturer SEH America has hinted that it might venture into the field.
National, global forces determine economy’s direction, but local choices still play a role
Clark County’s economy managed to tread water in the third quarter of 2011, but struggling businesses and unemployed workers were still at sea in the July to September period. And even normally optimistic economists don’t expect the county — or the state or nation — to come ashore in the foreseeable future. Staying afloat at least beats drowning, which the pessimists fear.
Portland officials hope to build marine terminal
There’s no budget, no timeline and no big businesses yet interested in locating to West Hayden Island. But sometime in the next ten to 20 years, city of Portland and Port of Portland officials hope to build a 300-acre marine terminal on the Oregon island that includes Jantzen Beach.
Give a business a $1 million break on taxes and fees: Good idea or bad? It depends on the business, the types of taxes we’re talking about, and how we tell the story, to look at two recent local examples.
Uptown Village eatery is a friendly, informal spot
You could drive across town to Mon Ami for its Stumptown coffee and crepes, and you’d come away with a satisfied palate. But that’s really not the whole point of this funky Uptown Village eatery. Mon Ami is the kind of neighborhood hangout that it feels good to live near.
Clark County bankruptcy filings have dropped by more than 11 percent this year, mirroring a trend that’s been observed across the nation. American Bankruptcy Institute Executive Director Samuel Gerdano told news agency Reuters that he expects overall U.S. bankruptcy filings to total about 1.4 million this year, down from a five-year high of 1.53 million in 2010. But it’s a puzzling local and national decline, coming at a time when foreclosure rates and unemployment remain high.
Revised unemployment rate expected to be about 13 percent
Clark County’s labor market remained flatlined in July.
Tough times can draw us closer together, uniting our community behind a common vision of the future. Or adversity can tear us apart, as we vie for access to scarce resources.
When Keith Scott read the comments other small-business owners delivered to U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, on Aug. 8, he was puzzled. The statements seemed to imply that small businesses have special tax disadvantages, and that proposed increases to personal income tax would make things even worse.
In town through Saturday, it also buys gold, watches
When a for-profit business that travels the nation buying coins, precious metals and paper currency made a stop in Vancouver this week, Ed and Mary Ann Statler decided to check it out. “There were old coins that we had been carrying around for years,” said Mary Ann Statler, 67. “I went on the Internet to see what they were worth.”
Frustrations include inability to find qualified workers, federal tax system
When federal policies create winners and losers, more often than not, small businesses end up losing out, leaders from a dozen Southwest Washington companies told U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, on Monday. At an invitation-only Vancouver gathering that included contractors, a dentist, a hotel owner, and the head of several hobby shops, Herrera Beutler asked for insight into how taxes and regulations affect job creation in the region. “The goal here is for me to learn from you,” she said. “What would you like me to know, as I’m wading through these issues?”
Labor officials find nine 6- to 11-year-olds at work
Children as young as 6 were picking strawberries for no pay at three Southwest Washington farms, in violation of federal law, officials with the U.S. Labor Department alleged Friday. Labor officials said they found nine children between the ages of 6 and 11 at work on the farms on June 25. George Hoffman Farms and Berry Good Farms, both of Ridgefield, and Woodland’s Columbia Fruit LLC were collectively fined $73,050 for allegedly violating provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
Small-scale cooks can now sell goods made in their homes
When Felicia Hill started shopping for a birthday cake for her son three years ago, she had no idea that she was embarking on a journey that would take her to Olympia and end with a change to state laws. The Hazel Dell stay-at-home mom just wanted to find a safe cake for her son to eat. As of Friday, the state’s “cottage foods” law officially went into effect, in large part because of her efforts.
Several companies plan to move jobs here, but it may take years for recovery to take hold
Home sales faltered, home values fell, unemployment stagnated, retail sales growth slowed. The second quarter of 2011 was anything but pretty in Clark County. Sure, there was some good news — Sapa Extrusions said it would bring 100 jobs to the Port of Vancouver, Sharp’s Solar Energy Solutions Group announced it would relocate from California to Camas, bringing up to 35 jobs. Those announcements add to other commitments made over the past year by PeaceHealth, FarWest, BHP Billiton and others. But it will take months or years before all the promised jobs arrive. Meanwhile, local leaders are examining policies and looking for ways to strengthen Southwest Washington’s economy for the long run.
Asian -inspired menu includes chicken, vegetarian choices
Why: Tucked into a storefront next to the Salmon Creek Fred Meyer, Bamboo Hut offers healthy Asian-inspired food that’s easy for diners to customize. Sauces come on the side, so you can choose whether to drench your chicken in teriyaki sauce or take it light. Though chicken, salmon and prawns play center stage in more than half the entrees, Bamboo Hut also has a robust vegetarian menu that makes abundant use of tofu and soy chicken. It’s one of the few places around where vegetarians can order pho, a hearty Vietnamese stew usually made with beef broth.
Forget alternative energy or high-tech health care. Clark County’s developing a niche with no help from the economic development experts: vice. Just look at the evidence. Booze, gambling and drugs are all growing sectors in our economy, bringing in millions of dollars and likely employing hundreds of local people. The booze is the least controversial. As reporter Sue Vorenberg writes in today’s Life section, Vancouver’s got a burgeoning beer scene, with a handful of established microbrew pubs and tasting rooms already here and more on the way. Clark County also has a small but growing wine scene, with Three Brothers Winery, East Fork Cellars and Gouger Cellars Winery all earning awards in recent years. Beyond locally made drinks, Clark County liquor sales are up 35 percent to $38.2 million over the past decade, when adjusted for inflation, according to the state Liquor Control Board.
Salaries of publicly traded companies’ leaders increased average of 4.1% in 2010
Executive pay is climbing again at Clark County’s four publicly traded companies. Corporate presidents, finance chiefs and other company leaders saw their compensation climb by 4.1 percent, on average, in 2010, according to a Columbian review of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings. These business leaders earned an average of $361,302 in salaries, bonuses and other compensation, including stock options and perks.
It’s probably not a good sign that Clark County’s chief cable regulator is just as confused about Comcast’s rates as the rest of us. “It is difficult trying to find the rates on the website — I can’t find them,” said Jim Demmon, director of the City/County Cable Office. “We do get a rate sheet here each year, but for new customers you see one rate, for existing it’s another, by the time you add in different factors it’s very frustrating. And we can’t require them to make it available to the public.”
Yacolt family farm may clean up with product requiring extreme cleanliness
Within a week of winning a state license to sell raw milk, a small family farm in Yacolt inked deals to distribute the product through at least five stores across Clark County. Spanish Sonrise Dairy will sell its unpasteurized, nonhomogenized cow’s milk at Chucks Produce in Vancouver, Four C Produce in Battle Ground, the Amboy Market, the Yacolt Trading Post and Taqueria Market in Orchards, said Tina Rodriguez, who runs the business that she and her husband, Jose Rodriguez, own together.
Driving her boss to the edge of sanity could turn out to be the best thing MaryAnne Randall has ever done. The 43-year-old Volkswagen saleswoman takes great care to project a professional image — hair, makeup, lipstick, clothes. And, yes, acrylic fingernails that clatter loudly against most computer keyboards.
Should we panic, or should we celebrate? Clark County is in the midst of a major leadership shake-up. Washington State University Vancouver, the Columbia River Economic Development Council, Identity Clark County, the Port of Vancouver and the city of Camas will all get new leaders within a single 12-month period.
Buffet’s brightly colored choices are hit-and-miss
Why: If you’ve got a big appetite but want to get beyond the salad fixings, pizzas and macaroni that are hallmarks of traditional American buffets, Namaste Indian Cuisine offers a reasonably priced alternative. The all-you-can-eat buffet dishes up more than a dozen brightly colored choices, including chicken and lamb, red, yellow and green lentil dishes, and soft-serve mango ice cream for dessert. Atmosphere: Located at Northeast 117th Avenue and Fourth Plain, Namaste’s interior matches its surroundings. It’s clean and tidy, but the 1970s-style wood paneling is hardly high class. A few paintings and a TV broadcasting Hindi language movies (with English subtitles) remind visitors of the restaurant’s cultural ties, but the space feels like an Americana-style diner that hasn’t quite been brought up to date.
The folks who have run Nautilus for the past few years might as well have declared “mission accomplished” when they explained their decision to abandon the Vancouver company to reporter Aaron Corvin in Friday’s paper. “A remarkable transformation,” CEO Edward Bramson touted, as he headed for the door. Despite the self-congratulations, the fitness company is a long way from fit.
On stage, gurus held forth on Twitter and news, Twitter during emergencies, Twitter as a business tool. It was the 140 Character Conference Northwest. A chance to talk, tweet and learn about Twitter, right here in Vancouver.
Clark Public Utilities has dodged a battle between wind and water power producers that’s unfolding in the Northwest this week. But with renewable energy rules going into effect next year, it’s not yet clear whether the local electric utility may ultimately be drawn into the dispute.