March 18, 2010


Share this article! Portland International Airport may have a shiny new parking garage, but the economy is raising questions about the structure and other costly Port of Portland projects. And while drought is hurting Northwest wheat farmers, Nike’s profits surge brings some good news from local business. Nike profits leap ahead Nike Inc. enjoyed a … Read more

Portland International Airport may have a shiny new parking garage, but the economy is raising questions about the structure and other costly Port of Portland projects. And while drought is hurting Northwest wheat farmers, Nike’s profits surge brings some good news from local business.

Nike profits leap ahead

Nike Inc. enjoyed a surge in third-quarter profits with earnings of $496 million — more than double the $244 million the company earned in the same period the year before.

While the sportswear company is still not back on its normal revenue and growth track, demand is improving in most markets, Nike leaders say.

The results beat the expectations of analysts, who on average predicted a profit of 89 cents per share on revenue of $4.6 billion for the quarter. Nike’s shares rose $3.09, more than 4 percent, to $73.47 in after-hours trading.

“Nike is more than a survivor in these tough economic times,” CEO Mark Parker told investors on a conference call. “We were able to manage up and through the recession to expand separation for our brands and our businesses.”

Read the full story at The Register-Guard.

Port payoffs in question

The Port of Portland has officially opened its $156 million parking garage at Portland International Airport and is nearly finished with a new $85 million headquarters for the agency.

But the projects were started years ago when economic estimates were still high; airport traffic has been mostly flat since last summer without significant signs of improvement.

The public agency, which operates the airport and docks along the Columbia and Willamette rivers, is in the midst of its largest capital construction campaign in history, with more than $570 million in upgrades and construction underway or coming to an end…

But the lull in international trade by air and sea means officials can only bank on a steady economic recovery to help pay off their purchases. The new garage and headquarters were not paid for by tax dollars, but with agency revenues and airport revenue bonds.

Read the full story at OregonLive.com.

Rough outlook for wheat

While Northwest wheat growers aren’t worried just yet about the relatively dry winter season, they say more rain will need to come in order for the crop to survive the hot summer months.

And the relative lack of precipitation is preventing Northwest farmers from switching to alternative crops like their Midwest peers.

The low wheat prices have motivated many farmers in the Midwest and elsewhere in the West to plant corn or soybeans instead, but in the Pacific Northwest where the lion’s share of soft white wheat grows, limited precipitation precludes that option unless irrigation water is available.

Wheat production is down 23 percent nationwide, said U.S. Wheat Associates market analyst Chad Weigand, who pegs this year’s winter wheat plantings at 37 million acres and spring wheat at 15.5 million acres.

Read the full story at The Register-Guard.

Crabbers beat river ban

After the U.S. Coast Guard implemented a rule keeping local crabbers out of a large portion of the Umpqua River, local backlash has forced the Coast Guard to drop its control.

The rule was established to make boating safer on the part of the river that meets the ocean. But locals argued that the rule had a negative effect on the local economy and tourism.

[Joel Abstetar of the Umpqua River Motor Lifeboat Station] said the purpose of the change was to make boating safer in the river, where broken-down boats could quickly be dragged out to breaking waves at the bar. The idea behind creating an extra mile or so of “buffer zone,” where certain vessels would be banned during rough days at the river mouth, was to give the Coast Guard more time to respond before boaters get into real danger, he said.

But local crabbers said the rule was unnecessary, given that it created a 2-mile-long swath from the ocean up the river. There’s already a mile-long “Regulated Navigation Area” that affects boaters now, and locals said that’s plenty of room for Coast Guard rescues.

Read the full story at The Register-Guard.

TriMet chief off the bus

After 11 years at the helm of TriMet, Oregon’s largest transit agency, General Manager Fred Hansen says he will retire when his contract expires in June.

Hansen says he wants to explore other opportunities and emphasizes that the agency’s economic struggles had nothing to do with his decision.

Hired in October 1998, Hansen, 63, leaves the agency as it struggles with a $27 million budget hole amid an unforgiving recession and while it is telling riders to expect more service cuts and a fall fare increase.

But Hansen said the agency’s economic troubles, which have chipped away at his aggressive expansion of high-frequency bus service, had nothing to do with his decision.

Read the full story at OregonLive.com.