Corvallis Business: Oregon22 & Tourism, 2023 Business Trends, Workers Comp Should Drop, Events

The vacancy rate for housing in Corvallis is below 1% as rents continue going up, particularly due to rent control.  

While Benton County reported an unemployment rate of 2.9% for July, Corvallis had a rate of 3.5% for a second month in a row.   

Oregon22 Tourism Numbers: Oregon22 was touted as a means to bring additional business to Corvallis during the “shoulder season” – the time of year between the “peak season” and “off season” for tourism in an area; as most businesses are aware, our shoulder season is the summer months when Oregon State University closes its doors to regular classes and thousands of students go home. According to Christina Rehklau of Visit Corvallis, the number of rooms sold in July during the large track-and-field event were actually lower than in usual years.  

“We actually saw a little bit of a contraction – you have to remember this is for the entire month, so it’s not broken down for those two week,” Rehklau said. “We saw a slight dip in demand, but because of rates being as high as they were for the world championships, we actually ended up making significantly more money this year over last year. So it did help from a revenue standpoint.”  

Rates for July were up 40% from last year.  

2023 Business Trends to Look For: If you ask the experts around the internet about what trends to look for in the coming year, the first ones that really hit home are Niche Markets and Virtual Markets.  

Niche Markets have been a mainstay in Corvallis for a long time. The cute little shops with a specific set of products are fun for college students and their families that visit. But what is the negative about these types of businesses?  

“The smaller your focus the less resilient you are if that market gets hammered,” said Samantha Alley of RE/MAX. “In Corvallis, you could never make a living just doing condominiums, and I specialized in manufactured homes and parks for years – I still have the large market share for that particular thing, but I can’t make a living just doing those.”  

Another issue that arises with a smaller set of products for sale is that there is always someone online who can sell the same items for less and have them shipped to your home. Does that mean fewer shoppers on the downtown streets?  

“I don’t know if you’re going to see less soon, but I think there’s been a decline of necessity over the last couple years,” said Simon Date of the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce. “How we respond to that is obviously going to be a big factor. Whether you like it or not, you’re not going to get rid of Amazon, you’re not going to get rid of convenience shopping.”   

And how will that affect the idea of Downtown Corvallis?  

“The concept of Downtown – it has to change. You cannot not have it change, but what that looks like, who knows,” said Date. “The one thing right now that Corvallis has going for it is the age of the population – older, maybe less resistant to change. So, I’m sure there are plenty of folks living in Corvallis who are more than happy to come downtown, because that’s what they’ve been doing for thirty years. But at some point they age out, and that’s where things start to change. So if you’re forward looking enough, you’ve got to start preparing for that.”  

Alley sees the opportunity in the faces of the next big generation: Millennials.  

“Millennials are really interesting, and they are our biggest consumer right now because they actually have the money and they’re a large population base for consumption,” she said. “The way that they shop and the way that they do things is grouped. They do things together. They do a lot of research online, but they are purchasing [real estate] at a higher rate through referral than any other demographic ever… That’s how they find their agent. So if you can create pieces of your business that encourage how they buy… by bringing them in through events and stories and how they consume, then you can bring them into your store at a high level.”   

The one caveat according to Alley? “You’ve got to open it up so it’s something they can tap into when they want to.” 

Workers’ Comp Costs Should Drop: In 2023, the average Oregon employer should also see a decrease in the cost of Workers’ Compensation Insurance, according to the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS).  

According to a report from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) which sets rates nationwide, the decrease is a result of several long-term trends in business practices statewide, including reduction in loss experience and loss development patterns. On average, employers have been paying 97 cents per $100 of payroll during 2022, and that rate will on average decrease to 93 cents per $100 of payroll in 2023. This rate is an average of a 3.2% drop.  

Of course, not all industries are alike, so not all rates will be the same. Some businesses may see higher decreases, while others may see increases. However this is a trend in Oregon where the Workers’ Compensation insurance has fallen by 49% between 2014 and 2023.  

Factors which sustain these decreases include the statewide system, Oregon OSHA, the Workers’ Compensation Board which resolves disputes, and several other statewide measures put into place to advocate for safe workplaces.   

Workers’ Benefit Fund Remains the Same: While Workers’ Compensation is going lower, the Workers’ Benefit Fund will see no change in 2023. 

This fund provides benefits to workers who are permanently disabled at the workplace, to families of workers who die at the workplace, and supports injured workers returning to work sooner through incentive programs to employers. Revenue for this fund comes from a cents-per-hour-worked assessment of 2.2 cents per hour worked. That rate will stay the same. 

A WINning Series of Events: The Willamette Innovators Network (WIN) is returning with a “Meet and Greet” Event on Tuesday, Sept. 13, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Old World Deli, located at 341 SW 2nd St., Corvallis.  

The event is free and is being promoted as a “perfect time to reconnect” for this innovative business community. WIN creates opportunities for people throughout the chain of the innovative process to meet-up through Pub Talks, Shark Tank, and an Expo. They work to improve the “business ecosystem” alongside OSU Advantage Accelerator, Corvallis Benton County Economic Development Office, LBCC Small Business Development Center, Foundry Collective, the Business Enterprise Center, Oregon RAIN, Business Oregon, Oregon Entrepreneurs Network, and other local organizations. 

Learn more about this event here.   

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

If it’s Tuesday, then it must be Greeters! This week the Chamber’s weekly chance to hang out and talk business in the morning will be hosted by the Boys & Girls Club, located at 1112 NW Circle, Corvallis, from 8:30-9:30 a.m.   

On Wednesday, Sept. 14, Veronica Hennessey will be hosting the next edition of Growth & Mindset Book Club. Meet up at The Biere Library, located at 151 NW Monroe Ave., Corvallis, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. to discuss Atomic Habits by James Clear.  

Sept. 15 will be a chance to attend the Corvallis Art Walk from 4:00-8:00 p.m. Wander around the city and see what local artists have been up to. Find out more details here  

On Friday, Sept. 16, come to Burst’s Chocolate, located at 353 SW Madison Ave., Corvallis, to help them celebrate 84 years in business. From 3:30-5:30 p.m., the chocolatier that has kept Corvallisites happy since 1938 will offer special featured candies and yummy giveaways.   

Sunday, Sept. 18, come out to support the Grace Center’s Walk-a-Thon. This event will run from 1:00-3:00 p.m. at the Benton County Fairgrounds, located at 110 SW 53rd St., Corvallis. Proceeds will go to Grace Center programs and their participants.  

By Sally K Lehman 

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