The statewide pursuit of CHIPS Act dollars turned local last week, with a Corvallis HP exec appearing in front of county commissioners seeking support for tax breaks. Specifically, the company seeks to have its Northeast Corvallis campus designated an enterprise zone, which would reduce or eliminate their property taxes on the site.
Benton County billed the company for $898,876 in property taxes last year.
On the question, should HP get a property tax break from Benton County or not? James Thom, a section manager with the company that appeared on behalf of HP, told the commissioners they could anticipate new jobs that pay 50% better than the area’s average wage.
He also told commissioners the company would be seeking a letter of support from them in the next month or two, and that the company believes the tax incentive commitment may help HP secure a piece of the federal funding.
During the meeting, County Commissioner Nancy Wyse said that so far, she’s inclined to support the idea.
Also last week, the Oregon Center for Public Policy made waves with a widely circulated op-ed that points to studies maintaining these incentives don’t generally motivate companies to do anything they wouldn’t have done anyhow – a commentary that ran in several newspapers statewide, including The Advocate.
Notably, Thom presented a graphic to the commissioners that stated, “The Corvallis site is HP’s only semiconductor processing and assembly facility in the U.S.”
Another Chain Leaving Corvallis: The party is over for Party City, the Corvallis location will be among 22 stores the retailer plans to close, and one of 12 locations the retailer plans to auction off. Shift Manager Danacia Winters says the Circle Boulevard outlet’s last day will be April 29.
The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January. Prior to that, the chain had been operating 823 locations, 770 of them company owned. It has already closed and vacated 28 stores in 13 states.
The retailer has suffered lagging sales from both the pandemic lockdown and ongoing supply chain problems according to analysts. It is possible the chain may need to shed additional locations.
Gerding Scores State Recognition: Gerding Builders, a Corvallis-based commercial general contractor, and its sister company, TGC Structural, a carpentry and specialty concrete contractor has received state recognition for health and safety commitments.
The firm and sister company achieved first-year certification as part of Oregon OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP).
SHARP, primarily set up to help small- and mid-sized businesses, coaches employers on how to effectively manage workplace safety and health. The program encourages Oregon employers to work with their employees to identify and correct hazards and to continuously improve. In turn, companies are recognized for their success in reaching specific benchmarks during the five-year program. An employer may graduate from SHARP after five years of participation.
Gerding Builders and TGC Structural began the SHARP process in February 2022.
One of the most important core values for the companies is ensuring that everyone goes home safe every day, said Corporate Safety Manager Roy Shawgo. “This includes not only our employees, but all who work on our job sites. It’s important to us as a company to take the next step in keeping our workforce safe. SHARP has helped us work closer with our crews to identify and correct potential hazards.”
Shawgo said he is impressed by the guidance provided by Oregon OSHA consultants. “It was hard work, but they walked us through each step,” he said. “What we didn’t understand, they took the time to explain it and assisted with it. I look forward to working with them over the next four years.”
According to Oregon OSHA, the benefits of the program, which is part of the agency’s consultation services, include lower injury and illness rates, decreased workers’ compensation costs, increased employee morale, and lower product losses.
How Oregon Businesses See State Government: With the start of a new administration and legislative session, Oregon Business & Industry (OBI) and the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce asked hundreds of small employers to share their thoughts on Oregon’s business climate. The results are alarming. Oregon’s local businesses feel overtaxed and overwhelmed by rapidly changing legislation. And to a stunning degree, they don’t think lawmakers care about their success.
The survey, conducted in late January and early February, received responses from more than 440 small businesses throughout the state and in a wide variety of industries. Almost without exception, participants do not believe that Oregon’s business climate, which they rate poorly, will improve in the coming year. And by a wide margin, they believe lawmakers don’t care about the success of their businesses and that state agencies are more interested in finding fault than helping them comply.
According to OBI, the conditions affecting small employers, which include soaring state and local taxation and proliferating regulations, require urgent attention by state and local leaders.
The survey’s findings include:
- 74% of respondents say that regulations affecting business change so frequently that it is hard to keep up with what they’re supposed to do.
- 71% of respondents say that state agencies seem more interested in finding wrongdoing (even when there isn’t any) than in helping businesses like theirs comply with regulations.
- Only 18% of respondents believe that state lawmakers care about the success of their businesses.
- Only 48% of respondents feel comfortable calling a state agency for help or clarification about a regulation.
- 41% of respondents say they’re considering closing, selling or moving their businesses because of taxes, Oregon’s regulatory environment or a combination of the two.
- On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being “great,” more than 80% of survey participants rate Oregon’s business climate below a six.
- Only 7% of respondents believe the state’s business climate will improve in the coming year.
- The top issues facing respondents’ businesses, in descending order, are increased labor costs, taxation, increased supply costs, and laws and regulations around employment/HR.
“Oregon is at an inflection point,” said Angela Wilhelms, president and CEO of OBI. “Unless leadership in Salem starts taking the concerns of employers seriously, innovators and job creators increasingly will look to grow elsewhere, taking opportunities for Oregonians with them.”
“Sadly, these results were not surprising to us,” added Wilhelms. “Employers have faced and continue to navigate unprecedented challenges, but these challenges are not solely the product of one-time events. They include systemic problems rooted in an indifference held by far too many toward the health and well-being of our state’s private sector employers.”
According to OBI, lawmakers, agency policymakers and local government leaders need to ensure that impacts on Oregon’s local employers are taken into account when new laws or regulations are enacted. A range of solutions to the frustrations held by these small business owners and Oregon’s overarching competitiveness crisis can be found in OBI’s Growth and Innovation Roadmap.
Click here to view a full slide deck of survey responses.
And Now, You Business Events Calendar….
How to Pitch Your Business Class: A two session class teaching strategies on how to best story-tell your business to investors and others with confidence. This class is offered through the Small Business Development Center at Linn-Benton College. The fee is $89.
You will workshop communicating your business plan, financials and value proposition clearly – an individual 30 minute advising session for each participant is included.
Meets on Zoom, 6 to 7:30 pm, Wednesdays March 1 and 8. Click here to register.
Chamber of Commerce Success Events Series: Three separate events; March 1 brings a workshop on customer service and support, March 22 the topic shifts to building and heightening team unity, and the April 12 class moves to building a conscious company culture. Each individual class is $110, or $300 for all three.
Classes will be at the Chamber of Commerce office, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. This is a Chamber member event, click here to register.
Corvallis Social @ The 257: Newly revitalized office spaces above, a new retailer below – the old Many Hands Trading building has had a serious makeover, and this is a chance to see it for yourself.
Billed as a special Downtown Corvallis Social, there will be food, drinks and music. It’s also a chance to meet-up with the building developer. Also on hand, the Chamber of Commerce committee focused on downtown. 4 to 8 pm, Wednesday, March 1 at 257 SW Madison Ave.
OSU Nonprofit & Public Service Fair: Meet representatives from over 50 nonprofit and local government organizations representing a wide variety of fields who are seeking OSU volunteers, interns, and employees. The 17th annual Non-Profit and Public Service Fair offers the chance to network with people who share your interests and passions and learn more about the many opportunities available in the nonprofit field. OSU has specifically encouraged the general public to also attend.
11 am to 3 pm, Wednesday, March 1, at the Memorial Union Ballroom. Click here for more info.
Family Business 360 Features Wood Castle: Curious to hear from an industry-leading company that has over four decades of experience crafting premium, high-quality wood furniture? March’s Family Business 360 event features the Loe family of Wood Castle Furniture. Learn from Wood Castle’s leadership, Ron Loe, as he discusses his experiences running the company, dealing with failures, and adapting to changes within the industry.
Virtual event, Wednesday, March 8, from 8:30 to 10 am. Hosted by the OSU College of Business Center for Family Enterprise, click here for information and registration.
Business Book Club: Discuss one new book each month with the intention to come away being more empowered, motivated, and knowledgeable about business, career, and professional development. This month’s book is Eat That Frog.
Wednesday, March 8, 2023, from 5 to 6 pm, at The Biere Library, 151 NW Monroe Ave. Click here for more information.
Steps to Hiring Your First Employee: Learn the steps to take to become an employer. After discussing the logistics, this class goes over how to find and hire your first employee. Topics include understanding the difference between employees and independent contractors, workers compensation insurance, payroll taxes, required new hire paperwork and mandatory workplace posters.
Fee is $59. Meets on Zoom. Thursday, March 9, from 6 to 7:20 pm. Click here to register.