Writings and observations

Travel around small towns in the Northwest and it’ll seem half of them have something designated as an industrial or business park – a place where businesses, especially but not exclusively manufacturers, are given encouragement to take root. It often seems a good idea but so often fails to pick up steam. A lot of them look sadly underpopulated.

So, an interesting piece in the Portland Daily Journal of Commerce about an industrial park success story at Estacada, a hidden-away (in a pretty area in the Cascade foothills) little town, not long ago a post-timbertown depression story, which seems of late to be finding its economic footing. In 2003, only one person worked on the 25-acre tract. Now: “. . . the once paltry property has exploded, morphing into the Estacada Industrial Park. The new center of all things industrial – typically steel fabrication and mechanical work – now employees more than 100 people at 12 locally owned companies.”

There seems to have been no single silver bullet, more a confluence of good fortune. (And locals are talking about finding ways to accelerate further.) But it’s a story worth considering as businesses, and people, hunt for answers in tougher days.

Share on Facebook

Oregon

At winetown

Heavy traffic on Main Street, Carlton, Oregon, on Thanksgiving/Stapilus

Talk in news reports about substantial crowds (reflecting lower gas prices) but low-level shopping (reflecting the general economic troubles) on this post-Thanksgiving weekend found reflection in smaller locales as well as larger.

Carlton wine shops

Carlton wine shops

In Oregon wine country, there are two especially large-scale weekend events, one on Memorial Day weekend, the other on Thanksgiving weekend. Mass crowds run through the wine towns, and wine tasting rooms are packed. In our small town of Carlton (population about 1,800 people, 20+ wineries or tasting rooms) this weekend is as busy as the year gets. So what was business like?

The story from place to place was consistent. The number of visitors was comparable to last year, maybe down a little. The number of cars was fewer, the traffic jams a little less jammed, because of a shuttle bus program recently established (a wise move, in intensive wine-tasting country), but the number of people seemed similar. But the number of buyers was definitely down. After a strong Friday, the number of buyers on Saturday was definitely down.

Not much disagreement from what we heard: The economy is definitely putting a crimp in things. For whatever it’s worth, wine country isn’t immune. And may be a good indicator.

Share on Facebook

Oregon

In the going-away department, we checked in on the congressional web sites for Idaho Senator Larry Craig and Representative Bill Sali, both leaving office soon but not yet through with their terms of office, or work for constituents.

Craig’s web site seems to be unavailable – drawing error messages. (Let me know if you find otherwise.)

Sali’s is up, but it hasn’t been updated since October. (Craig’s has been.)

UPDATE We may need to amend the report on Craig’s site – some other Senate sites seem to be down also.

Share on Facebook

Idaho