Visiting NEDCO: helping neighborhoods and families with homeownership, neighborhood revitalization, and small business development.
From left to right: Claire Seguin, Executive Director; Emily Reiman, OpportunityWorks Manager; Mauricio Juarez, OpportunityWorks Supervisor; Rep. Nathanson; and Sarai Johnson, Assistant Director.
While the Legislature is not in session I still fill my calendar with local meetings. Two priorities in the past few weeks: saving school health centers, and helping shape the Governor's Regulatory Streamlining project.
A short selection from my calendar: A visit to the Sheet Metal Institute with Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, a few other legislators, and a number of teachers and school district administrators. We heard from instructors and saw first-hand what the kids were learning, including trade skills and advanced math. Whether going on to college or a job, these kids are getting a great experience, and excelling at what they do.
I spent a couple of hours on transportation topics with Lynn Peterson, the Transportation Policy Advisor to Gov. Kitzhaber and others. Our meeting included a trip to another Lane County innovation: the nationally recognized transit brokerage program. The Eugene call center coordinates transit needs for elderly and disabled people and veterans, using public and private transportation options including RideSource, and planning shared rides.
And a few weeks ago, I spend a heart-warming and inspiring morning at the groundbreaking of a new Relief Nursery in Springfield!
Congratulations to Central Lane 9-1-1
With dispatcher Liz Ward at
the 9-1-1 Call Center
Last month I visited the Central Lane 9-1-1 Call Center. We reviewed how emergency call centers are funded, and recent agreements for cooperative arrangements with rural fire districts and others. I was pleased to learn the center recently achieved accreditation as an "Emergency Medical Dispatch Center of Excellence" by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch. The accreditation is given for "comprehensive implementation and compliance with the Medical Priority Dispatch System", and shows that each employee is compliant with the international practices standards for Emergency Medical Dispatch. Congrats to Central Lane 9-1-1 on this great accomplishment!
Supporting small business
This week's town hall forum on small business, hosted by Rep. Phil Barnhart, Sen. Lee Beyer and me, underscored a number of points near and dear to my heart. They include: helping build the export economy, including manufacturing and value-added jobs related to agricuture, such as food processing. Buying local; buying Oregon. Doing more to remove unnecessary hurdles, paperwork, and bureaucracy for business. Investing in infrastructure to support economic activity, transportation, and education. Supporting business health of micro-enterprises, a mainstay of our economy (there are more than 25,000 businesses with fewer than 5 employees in Lane County alone).
Lots of technical assistance and advice is available locally. They include: the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, LCC's Small Business Development Center and eDEV for microbusiness, the Lane Council of Governments, NEDCO (mentioned at top), the state's Business Oregon office, and SCORE. If you'd like help to make a connection with any of them, let us know.
Cool news about local businesses
learning about fuel efficiency improvements
In my previous newsletter I mentioned visiting Cascade Sierra Solution's "green truck center" in Coburg. Through their Green Highways Initiative, CSS provides "education, access to equipment and financial incentives for cleaner and more fuel efficient vehicles, and alternative fuels infrastructure." Good for business and the environment, their work reduces costs for truck owners and negative impacts on air and water quality and natural resources.
Another award-winning business: Hummingbird Wholesale opened the remodeled Steallaria Building in March to accommodate Hummingbird Wholesale and a variety of other businesses. You can find more information about the innovative environmental and energy strategies the building uses here.
Businesses expanding in our district: the Register Guard reported last month the three leading breweries in Lane County (Ninkasi, Oakshire, and Hop Valley Brewing) all plan to expand operations in the Whiteaker neighborhood. In addition to the construction jobs that will come with expansion, the three breweries plan to add around 35 jobs by the end of next year. That comes on top of news that Oregon recorded a record $5.2 billion in agricultural sales last year, with Lane County bringing in over $125 million.
Life insurance beneficiaries. The Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) has launched a new resource for Oregonians who need help locating missing life insurance policies that may name them as beneficiaries. Tracking down these policies can be difficult without paperwork, and that's why DCBS has unveiled the Life Insurance Finder Tool (LIFT). The tool is free to use, and will make it easier to find policies that were sold in Oregon.
Scam alert. The Oregon Department of Justice recently released a scam alert to be on the lookout for "bogus text messages" claiming you may have "won" a gift card for Walmart, Best Buy, Apple, or other national retailers. These text messages often contain malware and viruses desgined to infect your phone and steal your personal information. You can sign up for scam alerts from the Department of Justice here.
Energy savings for business. The Eugene Water & Electric Board has partnered with BRING to promote sustainable business practices in Lane County. The RE:think Business program "offers Lane County businesses free, confidential advice and support on practical ways to trim waste and save money." Find out more here.
EWEB bill assistance. EWEB has set up a job loss program that provides $200 in bill assistance to customers recently unemployed, as long as they have not sought bill assistance since October 1st of 2011. Visit the program website to see if you are eligible, or call (541) 685-7000 for more information.
Celebrating 100 years of the League of Women Voters
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the League of Women Voters. They've accomplished much, promoting civic engagement and building strong communties across this state, and the country! I've been a member of the LWV for many years - how about you? (p.s. it's not for women only)
The Lane Workforce Partnership, in coordination with Goodwill Industries and Lane Community College, have started the PLUS+ Project, an eight-week training program to prepare people age 50 and over for employment with Enterprise Contact Center and Royal Caribbean Cruises, as well as other local employers in the reservation sales/call center industry. The project has been made possible thanks to a generous grant from the AARP Foundation. The grant will finance the program's first two years of operations. If you or someone you know would like to participate, call (541) 431-3307 to sign up for an information session.