Bend Business Roundup 10-18-19

Bend Business Roundup 10-18-19

Happy Friday,

Here’s some stuff you might like.

Business: In the last seven years, Bend has experienced as much economic and socio-economic change as many cities see in 50 years. In October 2012, the unemployment rate was 10.1%, now it’s around 4%. (Check out the 17.1% in March 2009. That was fun.) The population was around 78,500 then; now there are around 20,000 more of us, all driving on Mt. Washington Drive at 8:30 a.m each weekday.

If it’s felt like we’ve been riding an economic rocket over the last seven years, there is some data to support it. Something called Wallethub named Bend the third fastest growing small city over the past seven years. The summary of the report could do a better job of explaining what that means, and that has led to some confusing local coverage, but the measure is of economic growth, of which population growth is a part, but so is new business starts, employment growth, tech growth, and other economic measurements.

So, using that methodology, Bend had the third-fastest growing economy over the past seven years among small cities. There are a lot of people who are doing a lot better in Bend now than seven years ago. It’s one of the primary reasons Bend is such a dynamic, optimistic place today.

Law: I’m skipping it this week because this thing is long enough as-is. You can stop nodding in agreement now.

Politics: Governor Kate Brown famously pushed during the 2019 legislative session a cap and trade bill the main purpose of which was to deter people from burning fossil fuels, and thus emitting carbon dioxide, by taxing and thus increasing the price of those fuels. It was projected that gasoline prices would increase by between 19 and 72 cents per gallon in the first year of the law, with even bigger price impacts in the future. Rural residents, who drive more on average, would have gotten the worst of it. Anyone who heated their homes with natural gas would have seen price hikes of 11% in year one, and 53% by 2040. The conceptual core of the bill was that in order to make consumers change their behavior to less carbon-intensive modes of transportation and heating, the state had to make their current behavior painfully expensive.

The bill failed because Democrats in the Senate couldn’t quite muster enough votes and no Republicans would vote for it. In response, the Governor threatened to enact portions of the bill via executive action, saying, “[D]oing nothing to reduce emissions is not an option. Not for our economy, our communities, our environment and of course, particularly, our children. I am open to modifications, I am not open to inaction.” The legislature will apparently take up cap and trade again in February 2020.

Given the urgency the Governor places on carbon reduction, it’s surprising she apparently chose to travel to Sunriver earlier this week via private jet, rather than a less carbon-intensive alternative. Medium-sized private jets burn at least 233 gallons of fuel per hour of use. It’s 147 miles from Salem to Sunriver, so a car that gets 20 miles per gallon would burn a little over seven gallons for the trip. Even if the jet was flying for only an hour en route to pick up the Governor, on route to Sunriver and presumably en route back to Salem, which seems unlikely, the volume of fuel burnt, and carbon emitted, from the private jet trip is much, much higher than it would be for a trip by car.

Now, it takes a lot longer to drive from the Valley to Sunriver than it does to fly via private jet, and the Governor is very busy, so in one sense it’s understandable she’d want to take the jet.  However, time or convenience versus higher carbon emissions is exactly the type of trade-off cap and trade is supposed to tilt away from the more carbon-intensive activity. The Governor is insistent that our state government purposefully inflict economic pain on consumers to change their behavior lest our economy, our environment and our children suffer. The Governor apparently chose inaction and actually counterproductive action with regard to carbon reduction, despite her statement that inaction was not an option.

The Governor’s apparent choice leads to two possible conclusions. Either (1) she does not actually believe that action to address carbon emissions is necessary to preserve the well-being of our environment, economy, communities and children; or (2), she does believe that reducing carbon emissions is essential, but also believes that her activities are of such importance and her time of such value that she is entitled to make decisions she would use the power of the state to prevent the rest of us from making. Personally, I think it’s (2), which highlights the biggest problem with cap and trade: it presumes state officials’ judgments about what is important or valuable to us is more important than our own. One can expect state officials to continue to judge that what they want for themselves is always important and valuable, and they’re the ones making the rules.

Et cetera: Speaking of fossils, the boys and I burned some en route to seeing some at the John Day Fossil Beds last weekend. Aiden, five, takes after me in his love of nerdy pursuits, and one of his current obsessions is dinosaurs and thus fossils. The John Day Fossil Beds don’t have dinosaur fossils, but they do have fossils from a bunch of now-extinct mammals including a horrifying beast called a Terminator Pig. The Terminator Pig was the size of a buffalo with an enormous head and teeth which allowed it to eat, well, almost anything. Elijah, three, left the gift store with a small, stuffed and surprisingly not terrifying Terminator Pig with which he now happily sleeps.

Which brings me to the following question: how is the mascot of Wheeler High School, located in Fossil, Oregon near the fossil beds, not the Terminator Pigs? It’s the Knights, which is fine, but come on.

PS: For those who’ve slogged through to this point, here’s a picture of Ron Howard in front of the last Blockbuster store in the known universe.

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Have a great weekend!

Jeff started EagerLaw PC to help Oregon entrepreneurs succeed in business. Jeff worked in Washington, D.C. for Oregon Congressman Greg Walden, served as Mayor of the City of Bend, and has been practicing law in Oregon for over a decade. Jeff believes strongly in entrepreneurship and enjoys making the legal side of business transparent and easy for his clients.

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