Corvallis Business: Goodbyes to Two Corvallis Humanitarians, County Moving Vans on the March, Employees Still Needed, Main Street Conference Coming, Dollar Tree Profits on the Rise, and More

The Benton County community will soon be saying goodbye to Karen Rockwell – the Executive Director of Benton Habitat for Humanity. In the nine years Rockwell has been with us, she’s seen the building of 12 new single-family houses – with the significant help of local volunteers, and she’s learned enough about the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) codes to make her an expert. Lincoln County saw that expertise and is welcoming Rockwell as soon as her replacement here can be found.  

In Lincoln County, she will be overseeing larger scale projects geared toward assisting Section 8 Housing needs.   

The search for Rockwell’s replacement is going nationwide, although Habitat for Humanity is looking nearby as well. If you or someone you know is interested in working for the organization, check out their website for details on the position. And please look twice at this opening, because Habitat is also losing Managing Director Daniel Sidder, who is moving to Montana to support his wife’s career.  

More Moving Trucks for the County: Last week, Benton County continued their move to Research Way.   

This time, the Benton County Information Technology (IT), Community Development, Financial Services, Human Resources, and Environmental Health departments are on the move. By early October, this will leave empty the Fifth Street Building, the Avery Building, and the Sunset Building.  

Governmental Jobs Only Half-Full: While the unemployment rate statewide stayed at 3.5% for both June and July of this year, there are some areas which have fared better than others.   

The retail sector lost 700 jobs last month, while leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and private educational services grew. In all, Oregon has regained 94% of all jobs lost during the pandemic. However, the governmental sectors – local government offices and schools – have regained only 49% of jobs lost.   

Locally, Benton County is looking to fill 21 jobs from deputy sheriffs to records clerks. The City of Corvallis is looking to fill 27 positions from recreation coordinators to library clerks. And the Corvallis School District is looking to fill 53 positions ranging from coaches to office workers to teachers.   

Corvallis Loses Main Street Designation: Coming up October 5-7 is Oregon’s Main Street Conference for 2022. This conference is an offshoot from the National Main Street Center (NMSC) – a membership-based organization with the goal to create a more vibrant downtown area as well as focusing on the historic preservation of downtown America. The four main elements of the NMSC program are Design, Economic Restructuring, Promotion, and Organization.   

According to Kate Porsche of the Economic Development Office, “Corvallis has lost its ‘Main Street’ designation with the closure of DCA,” but there is an office working to reapply to the program because it makes the city eligible for certain grants and programs.   

Christina Rehklau of Visit Corvallis said of the Main Street Conference, “It’s on my list of ones I might try to attend… The outdoor recreation conference is also that same month, so we have a couple of different things going on in October.”  

This year, the Oregon Main Street Conference will be held in Klamath Falls, and will feature keynote speakers John Stover of Jon Stover & Associates (JS&A) which is an Economic Development Consulting firm, and Andrew Howard who will speak to Better Block projects and other quick-build actions.  

The conference concludes with the Oregon Main Street “Open Door” Pitch Contest. This contest will allow attendees to pitch an idea or a plan to make their downtown the most welcoming place possible. These ideas have each hit a wall in terms of funding, meaning the winner of the contest will bring home $5,000 to implement their plans. If this sounds like you, you have until September 1 to submit your pitch  

LBCC for New Businesses: For those looking to start a small business in the near future, Linn Benton Community College might be a good place to start. The LBCC Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has a team with decades of entrepreneurial and business experience ranging across many different markets. 

The SBDC offers free advice on subjects such as accessing capital, bookkeeping, business plans, finances, marketing, sales, social media, and search engine optimization for websites. For those with ideas for a business but no idea where to begin, there are workshops and classes geared to where you are in the process of getting started – got an idea, ready to launch, creating expansion, business renewal, and exiting to that new opportunity. There are even more classes as your business moves forward. Find a full list of current classes here  

Plus, LBCC has begun a scholarship program for the SBDC which allows other businesses to give back to the community. The scholarships are to help nascent businesses to grow, build, and scale up. Click here to learn more about this program.  

A few local businesses that have benefited from this LBCC program are Wild Yeast Bakery, Benny’s Donuts, and Apex Property Clearing.  

Dollar Tree Benefits From Inflation: The current inflation rate is 8.5% – which means, if you use the “rule of 72” and if inflation maintains this rate, that in about 8.4 years the cost of goods will double. Meaning the average Corvallis apartment – sized 866 square feet – which costs $1,674 per month today, will cost $3,348 by around 2030. The average $106 electric bill will be $212. And, we’re sure you get where this is going with phone, internet, subscription services, and groceries. 

One thing that economists are seeing more consumers doing these days to fight the immediate inflation issues they are facing is changing where they shop for day-to-day needs. Dollar Tree and Dollar General are both seeing rises in their sales for the second quarter of the fiscal year.  

It’s not just low income folks anymore either. Higher income shoppers have been heading to the dollar stores in order to save money by buying smaller amounts of things for a lower immediate cost. 

At the same time, retail giants like Kohl’s, Target, and Walmart are having trouble due to too much stock on the shelves. Target alone announced a 50% decline in profits for 2021, leading the chain to cancel orders, cut prices, and remove excess stock any way possible. Much of that has been laid at the feet of consumers needing to get back to normal following a pandemic during which some had added discretionary income in the form of stimulus checks to spend on desired items rather than just what they need.  

As we wait to see what will happen in this are-we-or-are-we-not in a recession era, you can expect to see better sales at larger retail stores and larger crowds at our local Dollar Tree. 

Chamber Events: Coming this week from the Chamber of Commerce…    

Greeters this Tuesday, August 30 from 8:30-9:30 a.m., will be hosted by LaborMax Staffing at 420 NW 2nd St, in Corvallis. This is a great opportunity to meet others in the local business community over a cup of coffee.  

Also on August 30, Corvallis Young Pros will be meeting at 5:00 p.m. at Block 15, located at 3415 SW Deschutes St, Corvallis. Yep, it’s another opportunity to chat about business, meet other professionals in the area, and close out the day on a positive note. Register for this event here  

September 1 is the first Thursday of the month, which means between 4:00-6:00 p.m. you can pop over to McMenamins 3rd Street Pub, located at 420 NW 3rd St., and contemplate the keys to success or bemoan the challenges of being an entrepreneur with Veronica Hennessey for Wine & Mastermind. 

By Sally K Lehman 

Correction: In our original story we had Darren Sidder when his name is Daniel Sidder. It has been corrected.

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