Business Oregon News

June-July 2012 • From Tim McCabe, Director, Business Oregon

Oregon Innovation Council Soliciting New Ideas To Spur Innovation and Job Growth

Last month the Oregon Innovation Council (Oregon InC) solicited ideas from key industry sectors across the state for inclusion in the 2013 Innovation Plan that will be submitted to the Governor this fall.

To create the Innovation Plan, Oregon InC looks for ideas every two years where the state's unique strengths can be leveraged to create new jobs, new companies and diversify Oregon's economy. In previous biennia, that search has led to initiatives supporting green building and clean energy technologies; electric vehicle design; bioscience and drug discovery; wave energy; nanotechnology; and modernizing Oregon's $6 billion food processing industry.

Since it was funded in 2007, Oregon InC has helped incubate 18 companies that have secured more than $100 million in private equity, and created a network of shared labs used by almost 300 organizations to perfect ideas as diverse as portable kidney dialysis machines to new, malaria-fighting drugs.

A copy of the 2011-2013 Innovation Plan is available from the Innovation Web page.

For more information, please contact John Doussard at Business Oregon at 503-229-5116.

Oregon Growth Board Holds Initial Meeting in Salem

As a result of the passage of the Oregon Investment Act (HB 4040) in February, the Oregon Growth Board was created in an effort to spur more economic growth in Oregon, with a focus on increasing the ability the state's ability to grow companies from early stage to large, locally headquartered firms. The board is tasked with submitting a report to the Legislature with a series of recommendations on the implementation and administration for the investment and management of moneys in the Oregon Growth Fund and Oregon Growth Account, as well as enhancing leverage opportunities and attracting additional capital in Oregon to support business development.

The board held its initial meeting on June 26 in Salem. This initial, organizational meeting allowed the board members to meet, elect co-chairs and discuss expectations and origins of how and why the board was created. Jon Finney of CTC Consulting, gave a presentation on the state's capital gaps and possible ways to bridge them, and Oregon Business Development Commission Chair Wally Van Valkenburg spoke to the importance of focusing the work of the board on leveraging state resources to improve the availability of capital for high-growth companies.

The board is made up of seven voting members, including State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, Scott Burgess, Jim Coonan, Gerry Langeler (co-chair), Ann Marie Mehlum, Patricia Moss (co-chair) and Adam Zimmerman; and three non-voting members including Sen. Chris Telfer, R-Bend, Rep. Tobias Read, D-Beaverton and myself.

More Small Businesses Access Capital Through SSBCI

Small Business Loan and Loan Guarantee Programs Have Helped Dozens of Oregon Firms Retain Employees and Create New Jobs
Since accessing federal funds through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), we've been getting capital into the hands of Oregon's small businesses. The funding, from the U.S. Treasury, is expected to generate lending up to 10 times the amount received—or an estimated $165 million over the next four years through existing Business Oregon financing programs. Oregon small businesses interested in applying can get more information on our Web site.

"Oregon is a small business state and improving access to capital for small businesses is critical to the future success of our economy," Governor John Kitzhaber said in describing the SSBCI. "These awards will mean Oregon's small businesses can retain employees and create new jobs for Oregonians."

The funds are disbursed through the existing Oregon Business Development Fund (OBDF), the Credit Enhancement Fund (CEF) and the Capital Access Program (CAP). These three finance programs have years of proven success making direct loans to Oregon small businesses, participating in loan loss-reserve programs, or issuing loan guarantees to financial institutions for the benefit of small businesses.

La Grande's Bronson Lumber Company is a good example of a recent SSBCI success. We used SSBCI funds to guarantee $1.2 million of the $1.8 million in loans the company received from local lender Community Bank through the CEF program.

Bronson Lumber owns and operates a diversified building materials store with an adjacent truss fabrication plant and a window and door millwork shop. The company also owns the largest commercial rock quarry in northeastern Oregon. The company's primary facility is located in Island City near La Grande, with a small retail outlet and part-time ordering facility Enterprise.

The majority of the company's business is with local building and trades contractors with a smaller amount of retail sales. Rock sales have expanded into road and turbine base work for wind farms.

The company has faced, and has overcome, several serious setbacks in the past few years. First, in January 2008, the entire roof blew off the La Grande store in a wind storm. After it was replaced, an even bigger setback occurred when in September the same store caught fire and was burned to the ground.

Only two days later, the store was up and running in a temporary building and construction soon began on a new retail store. Four months later the new store was completed.

Bronson Lumber is a great example of a community-based company that has persevered and grown despite tough circumstances. We are pleased to assist them with financing programs and help them continue to be a strong and positive economic force in northeastern Oregon for years to come.

The SSBCI funds enhance our current programs and will create more lending opportunities for banks and credit unions as Oregon's business finance programs help mitigate some of the credit risks common to the lending environment in Oregon.

Oregon Communities to Receive $2.1 Million for Brownfield Cleanups

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the state of Oregon and five local communities will receive more than $2.1 million in Brownfields funding to help breathe new life into contaminated properties and revitalize former industrial sites.

As part of the funding, Business Oregon will receive $700,000 in supplemental funding for its existing Brownfields revolving loan fund. This funding will allow Business Oregon to continue making loans and providing grants to eligible applicants to cleanup brownfields throughout the state of Oregon, fostering environmental and economic redevelopment.

To succeed in brownfield redevelopment, we need truly collaborative partnerships between property owners, government and interested stakeholders. These EPA grants will go a long way to making success a reality for all these communities.

The announcement was just one of several pieces of good news. The U.S. EPA also announced that Astoria, along with eight other cities, will share in an additional $9 million worth of EPA brownfields redevelopment funding.

Astoria officials said they plan to use the $400,000 in funds from the EPA to assess properties and potential cleanup measures. The grant will help the city's work on the Heritage Square site, the former home to an auto repair shop, a dry cleaner and a printer. Astoria wants to reshape the space into an outdoor gathering space with an amphitheater and a boardwalk. It also will include the "Garden of Surging Waves," which will give a nod to Astoria's Chinese heritage.

"Astoria has a rich and diverse social history, populated with a variety of ethnic groups, many of which are honored elsewhere in the community," the EPA wrote in its release announcing the grant. "But until now, Astoria's early Chinese history has remained obscure. When fishing and fish canneries were two of Astoria's primary industries, Chinese men were a key part of the cannery workforce."

EPA Brownfields Grants fund site assessments and site cleanups, supporting local efforts to clean up contamination or otherwise make land useable for housing, community space or commercial development. The EPA also provides often cash-strapped communities a much-needed boost to bring abandoned lands back into productive use.

As part of the announced $2.1 million in Brownfields funding, the following Oregon communities will receive U.S. EPA Brownfields grants to engage in activities such as inventorying properties, conducting environmental assessments, establish coalitions to address cleanup, cleanup planning and community outreach:

  • The City of Eugene–$680,200
  • The Northeast Oregon Economic Development District–$400,000
  • The City of Troutdale–$200,000
  • The City of Vernonia–$200,000

The EPA estimates that there are 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites in America. The agency's Brownfields program seeks to redevelop such sites.

Brownfields Conference Recognizes Best Projects Across Oregon on June 13

The ninth Oregon Brownfields Conference was held June 13-14 in Portland and included the presentation of awards to four outstanding brownfield cleanup projects. The annual conference brought together state officials and private sector leaders to discuss how to expand redevelopment opportunities across the state.

The conference was presented by Business Oregon in partnership with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the Northwest Environmental Business Council and the Center for Creative Land Recycling. The event emphasized the tools and resources critical to the success of brownfield redevelopment.

Four outstanding projects received 2012 Oregon Brownfields Awards as examples of how brownfield redevelopment can help create hundreds of new jobs for state residents while improving nearby neighborhoods. This year's winners for outstanding projects included:

  • The June Key Delta Community Center in North Portland that involved the successful transformation of a former gas station into a sustainably designed community space. Partners on the project included the City of Portland, Portland's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Green Investment Fund, the Portland Development Commission the Community Benefit Opportunity Program and the U.S. EPA.

    The Delta Sigma Theta sorority, which spent $131,000 to purchase and improve the site, succeeded in realizing its goals to not only build a center for their outreach and volunteer efforts, but for a community center and a demonstration project for sustainable building design that would act as an educational showpiece on environmental stewardship for the neighborhood. In the summer of 2011, the sorority celebrated the opening of the June Key Delta Community Center. Hundreds of people attended including the mayor of Portland, Sam Adams.
  • The Sunriver Owners Association transformed an underutilized, vacant asbestos‐contaminated amphitheater area into the Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic & Recreation Center (SHARC), a showcase aquatic center, community‐gathering facility, and year‐round outdoor recreation area. Remediation of the Sunriver amphitheater area eliminated a potential long‐term risk to the health of Sunriver residents and guests. Partners in the project included the Sunriver Owners Association, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and other partners.

    The amphitheater area is a 22‐acre parcel in the heart of the community. The site previously housed buildings the former Camp Abbot army training facility. More than 90,000 troops came through the training camp, which was eventually demolished in 1945.
  • The Tabor Commons project transformed a former gas station site in southeast Portland into a non-profit, family-oriented coffee house and community center called Café au Play. Prior to being called Tabor Commons, this commercial property operated as a gas station from the 1920s to the 1980s. Since the 1990s, community members had raised concerns about criminal activities occurring on the site such as vandalism, violent crimes and drug deals.

    In the summer of 2011, Café au Play opened its doors and hosted a celebration with music, children's activities, bike maintenance and safety classes, and a petting zoo.

    Partners in the project included: Business Oregon-$60,600 for underground storage tank removal; city of Portland BES-$14,000 tank removal and clean up; city of Portland Brownfield Program-$34,000 for Phase II environmental site assessments and ABCA/clean up planning; and an U.S. EPA Brownfields Sustainable Pilots grant of $25,000 for green job curriculum and job training.
  • Remediation and future redevelopment of a 30-acre waterfront parcel owned by ZRZ Realty Company (Zidell) will one day result in hundreds of new jobs as well as the Portland region's latest light rail line. Business Oregon's Brownfields Redevelopment Fund loaned the project $3.9 million for the remediation project.

    The site, just south of the Ross Island Bridge, is adjacent to the Oregon Health & Science University tram terminal and spans one half mile along the Willamette River. The land has been home to continuous industrial use, including ship building, ship dismantling and now barge building by Zidell Marine Corporation (a sister company to ZRZ Realty) for nearly 100 years. The cleanup effort involved 32 acres of upland and 11 acres of submerged remediation.

    Total remediation construction costs were more than $20 million. Project funding was provided privately by Zidell, including settlements from insurance companies and from the U.S. government. Additional support was provided through the Business Oregon Brownfield Redevelopment Fund.

Grimm Kicks Off Second Season and a Slew of Economic Benefits for Oregon

More Than 1,000 Oregon Companies Benefited from First Year of the NBC TV Production

The Oregon economy, and the film and television industry sector in particular, continues to reap substantial benefits from productions here in Oregon such as the NBC TV show Grimm.

Late last month, Governor Kitzhaber joined the cast and crew of the show as they kicked off their second season of filming here in Oregon. The Oregon Governor's Office of Film & Television estimates that when final numbers are in for the show's first season, Grimm will have spent about $50 million in Oregon in 2011-2012.

Such spending—on equipment, crew members, construction, lodging and other expenses—is a big plus for Oregon.

"It's just a good industry for the state," Kitzhaber said. "Grimm has been a real success."

Along with the TV series Leverage and Portlandia, and film projects including ParaNorman, the upcoming animated feature from Hillsboro's Laika studio, Grimm contributed to a record $130 million spent in Oregon on film, TV and commercial production in 2011.

The season two kick-off for Grimm also was a good chance to note the hundreds of Oregon companies and vendors that benefit from in-state productions. In fact, more than 1,000 Oregon vendors did business with the show in the first season.

A good example would be ATI in Bend. ATI makes industrial electric cabling for many different types of industries. Two of its clients are Hollywood Lights and Pacific Grip and Lighting in Portland. Thanks to the influx of orders from these two vendors, ATI has added several Bend residents to its payroll.

Another vendor in attendance last month was Dave Etchepare from Dennis 7 Dees. It turns out that Grimm spends a tremendous amount of money on both plants and a setup crew. What's great for Dennis 7 Dees is that they are rentals, so they get the plants back at the end of the show to sell to other customers. The company figures that it earns $20,000-$30,000 of rental income every year from the film industry.

Upcoming Events

Oregon Business Development Commission Meeting

The Business Development Commission's next meeting is July 13 in Gresham.

Call for Nominations

Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week call for nominations due August 30 at the MED Web site to recognize accomplished minority business owners.

Find a complete listing of events on our Events Calendar