Ten memorable moments of 2014


2014 was a year of wild contradictions, fast-paced growth, and unexpected revelations.

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2014 was a year of wild contradictions, fast-paced growth and unexpected revelations.

Public companies rode the oil boom as ridesharing captured the popular imagination. Nike expanded in the suburbs as downtown Portland tech firms launched IPOs.  Oregon employment made a comeback while wages continued to lag.

Click through the slideshow to read about ten stories that defined this year in Oregon business.

1. The new oil age. 

Fueled by the energy boom, railcar manufacturer Greenbrier Companies rockets its way toward $2 billion in sales; CEO Bill Furman gets $1.4 million raise for a job well done. But the fossil fuel party may be coming to an end, as oil prices continue their free fall.

 2. A sleeping giant awakes

Nike announces it will expand its world headquarters in Beaverton, making good on the company’s 2012 promise to trade jobs for tax certainty. Beaverton is thrilled but the decision grieves South Waterfront boosters, who hoped to lure the global footwear maker to the inner city.

3. The mighty fall 

Urban Airship CEO Scott Kveton resigns in wake of a sex scandal, prompting soul searching about executive (male) hubris in the tech sector.

4. The nation’s love affair with indie Portland continues 

On the campaign trail for Sen Jeff Merkley Vice President Joe Biden drops by Salt & Straw for a scoop of Chocolate Woodblock and Double-Fold Vanilla at Salt & Straw. The latter opens its first store in Los Angeles.

5. Drought relief

After languishing for more than a decade, two landmark water rights battles make inch forward. Led by Sen. Ron Wyden, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in November passes an “historic” bill to implement the long-stalled Klamath Basin water agreements. The agreements would remove dams from the Klamath River to help salmon, give farmers and ranchers predictable water supplies, and restore fish habitat.

That same month Gov. Kitzhaber announces officials are close to a deal that would allow eastern Oregon farmers to pump more irrigation water from the Columbia River.

6. Intrigue at Mahonia Hall

Weeks before the November election, First Lady Cylvia Hayes confesses to various transgressions, including a green card marriage and interest in a marijuana growing operation back in the 80s. Her fiancee wins an unprecedented 4th term as governor.

7. Green rush

Along with Washington D.C. and Alaska,  Oregon legalizes recreational pot, affirming the ballot measure and state government as drivers of social change.

8.  Tech companies go wild

In one week in December, security software firm  Tripwire sells for $710 million and New Relic goes public. More evidence Portland is playing in the big leagues.

9.   Two steps forward…

 November marks best month for Oregon jobs since 1990, even as wages continue to lag national averages.

10.  David & Goliath

Uber launches a stealth invasion in Portland, scandalizing the city’s process-oriented leadership. The city promptly sues the global ridesharing startup, leading some to question one upsmanship as smart transportation policy.