Bend Business Roundup 2-7-20

Bend Business Roundup 2-7-20

Happy Friday,

Here’s some stuff you might like.

Business: Aside from Nike, it’s hard to think of a more recognizable Oregon-based business than Les Schwab Tires. Here in Bend and presumably throughout other snow-afflicted cities in the Pacific Northwest, the twice-annual trip to Les Schwab to get snow tires put on (Fall) and taken off (Spring) is a region-defining ritual. Of course, here in Central Oregon Les Schwab, founded in Prineville and now headquartered in Bend, is one of the area’s most enduring business success stories.

Les Schwab has always been family-owned and since the patriarch’s death in 2007, the ownership has been broken up between grandkids and great-grandkids. As these things often go, the heirs are now seeking a buyer. Amid the concerns about the future of the Bend headquarters and Prineville distribution center once the company is acquired, I wonder if Les Schwab might end up being employee-owned. Schwab already has a culture of sharing half each store’s profits with its employees, and promoting from within – taking the step to employee ownership, in which the employees via a trustee advocating on their behalf, would purchase the company from its present owners, typically via a note payable over time, would not be a huge one culturally.

Law: If you’ve owned a business, you’re familiar with an employee identification number (EIN), which is kind of like a social security number for your business, issued by the IRS. Surely one of the best things the IRS has ever done (admittedly not a high bar) is to establish its EIN website, where people can pretty easily get an EIN for their business via a five-minute or so process. You just enter some information about you and your business and the site spits out an EIN right away. It works really well.

Here’s the weird thing – the website has hours of operation, specifically Monday through Friday, 7 am to 10 pm Eastern Standard Time.  This is the only self-service website I’ve seen that has hours of operation, and I cannot for the life of me understand why this one does. The Oregon Secretary of State lets you register a new business any time during the day, but you have to wait for people there to review before it’s actually entered into the state’s system, so that can take a little time. But the IRS site gives you an EIN as soon as you hit submit, indicating that the process is entirely automated. Do the IRS servers need to rest between 10 pm and 7 am Eastern? I don’t get it.

Politics: The words “the legislature is in session” ought, by now, to strike fear in the hearts of Oregonians. Well, the Oregon legislature is in session for its mercifully brief but perhaps not brief enough 2020 “short session.” The governor and her allies in the legislature have renewed their push for a cap and trade bill which, in its most recent iteration, would raise fuel prices west of the Cascades and in Bend and Klamath Falls (but not the rest of Deschutes County and Klamath County), unless one of the counties east of the Cascades opts into the program, in which case the increase would extend statewide.

The whole scheme is intended to drive up fuel costs to deter people from using fuel, and to raise billions of dollars which the state government would, without any chance of graft or waste, dole out to programs intended to combat climate change. If you believe, like I do, that the climate is changing and that humans probably play some role in that change and the change is likely to have some negative consequences, you might be inclined to support cap and trade until you realize that for all the cost that it places on Oregonians it would have no perceptible impact on the climate. That’s because Oregon is barely even a rounding error in global greenhouse gas emissions. So, the bill would make Oregon even less affordable than it is already without actually doing anything meaningful to solve the problem it intends to solve.

Et cetera:  Have you seen the video of a coyote appearing to recruit a badger to hunt together? Turns out coyotes and badgers do hunt prairie dogs and ground squirrels together sometimes. The coyote stays above ground and the badger digs below ground so the prey doesn’t have anywhere to go. The cooperation ends, it seems, when the prey is caught – whoever catches it eats it.

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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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