Archive for February, 2011
Gasoline prices have been steadily rising in Bellingham and across Washington metro areas in recent weeks.
According to AAA Washington’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the average price for a regular gallon of gas was $3.49 in Bellingham on Tuesday, Feb. 22, up seven cents in the past week and 15 cents in the past month.
Bellingham’s average price is the highest among the nine metro areas surveyed by AAA. The Washington metro area with the least expensive gas on Feb. 22 was Spokane, which averaged $3.13 a gallon.
The price for gas is expected to rise in the coming months, as demand typically rises in the spring and early summer months. According to AAA, the record price for a gallon of gas in Bellingham was set on June 21, 2008, when the average was $4.50.
No. 22 in 2011: San Luis Trust Bank, San Luis Obispo, Calif. was shut down, then taken over by First California Bank of Westlake Village. Estimated cost to the FDIC: $96.1 million.
Government regulators shut down three banks this afternoon, making it 21 so far in 2011. Details below. I’ll update with a new post if others are closed before I leave the office:
No. 21 – Charter Oak Bank of Napa, Calif., was closed, then taken over by Bank of Marin in Novato, Calif. Estimated cost to the FDIC: $21.8 million.
No. 20 – Citizens Bank of Effingham, Springfield, Ga. was closed, then taken over by Heritage Bank of the South, Albany, Ga. Estimated cost to the FDIC: $59.4 million.
No. 19 – Habersham Bank of Clarkesville, Ga. was closed, then taken over by SCBT National Asoociation, Orangeburg, S.C. Estimated cost to the FDIC: $90.3 million.
I was going through Bellingham’s recent building permit applications and found some interesting business news:
– There’s an application to put in a Starbucks cafe at 1185 E. Sunset Dr. What’s strange about this is that’s where Taco Bell currently is, and that restaurant is still open. I’ll check around to see what’s going on.
– A permit application has been filed for an Ace Hardware store to go in the former Quarterback Pub space in the Sehome Shopping Center.
– Avenue Bread is putting in a new bakery at 2020 Humboldt St.
– The Children’s Place is continuing through the permit process to put in a store at Bellis Fair. The company sells baby and children’s clothing.
While still nowhere near the levels before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, local border traffic rose significantly in 2010.
Last year 11.8 million people traveled southbound into Whatcom County from Canada, an 8.3 percent increase from 2009 and the highest annual total since 2001. The data was collected by the Center for Economics and Business Research at Western Washington University.
Several factors are attributed to the rise in traffic last year, including the stronger Canadian dollar, the 2010 Winter Olympics, a more vibrant British Columbia economy and the change in tax structure in B.C. Those factors prompted more Canadians to travel into Whatcom County, said Ken Oplinger, president of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
“It’s a significant increase, but still not like it was in the 1990s,” said Oplinger.
Before the tighter security measures were put in place in 2001, border activity was routinely much higher than today. The peak year in the past 25 years was in 1990, when 27.9 million people traveled southbound into Whatcom County.
Oplinger expects southbound border traffic to be higher in 2011 than last year, but not as big a jump as between 2009-2010. The reason for this prediction is because many of the same factors are still in place. The loonie is now above par compared to the U.S. dollar, giving Canadians more purchasing power on retail goods. The Canadian economy remains in better shape than the U.S. and the province’s Harmonized Sales Tax means some items in B.C. are more expensive there than in Whatcom County.
One other factor is the increasing number of Canadians flying out of the Bellingham International Airport, he said. In 2010 nearly 400,000 people flew out of the airport and estimates are that at least half of them were from Canada. With additional flights recently being added, including daily flights to Honolulu, he expects airport traffic to be near the half-million mark in 2011.
Here’s a press release from Western about the new export program manager at the CEV. The agency recently received a grant to get this program going in Whatcom County:
Western Washington University’s College of Business and Economics’ Center for Economic Vitality (CEV) has added Neal Ambrose as the export program manager for the new export initiative, Jump Start Washington Exports (JustStartWa), which will serve businesses in Washington state interested in exporting or expanding exports.
Ambrose brings over 10 years export market development experience working with start-ups, small-to-medium businesses and Fortune 500 companies. Specifically, he has worked in shipping and logistics; trade finance; import-export operations and global supply chain integration. For over five years Ambrose has been responsible for global marketing and distribution operations based in Switzerland, Hong Kong and the United States.
Ambrose earned an M.B.A. in international management from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and B.A. in political science from the University of Puget Sound. He possesses a Six Sigma Green Belt and speaks French and some Mandarin Chinese.
“You don’t need to be a multi-million-dollar company to export today. Technology, logistics, and trade finance make exporting possible in ways that would not have been possible for small-to-medium businesses 15 years ago,” said Ambrose. “The timing of this initiative could not be better. The question, to my mind, is not whether a business should export, but can it afford not to consider it?”
“Neal brings a valuable export market development background to our wide range of services,” said Tom Dorr, CEV director. “We are excited about the new resources we have received to help our Washington state businesses grow through export trade. Businesses that are interested but haven’t started or those that are already exporting and want to expand their markets should contact us.”
The export program is part of the Washington state special export initiative that is funded by the Washington Department of Commerce. Part of the CEV’s export services now include no-cost confidential business counseling and match-making activities connecting foreign buyers directly with Washington state producers, with special emphasis on Canadian connections.
Businesses in agriculture, forest products, information/communication technology and manufacturing are especially encouraged to contact the Center for Economic Vitality to get more information.
For more than 20 years, the Center for Economic Vitality (CEV) has enabled Western Washington University’s College of Business and Economics to give back to the business community and has helped to shape the economic future of Whatcom County one business at a time. The CEV provides free, confidential counseling and technical assistance combined with business intelligence research to business owners and managers throughout Whatcom County. For more information, go to http://www.cevforbusiness.com or call 360-733-4014.
Blue Sea Systems, a Bellingham-based manufacturer of marine electrical products, is adding several new positions to its workforce.
The company has posted six new employment positions at its company headquarters and is looking for qualified candidates to fill the roles immediately, according to a company press release.
“Blue Sea Systems is committed to developing superior products supported by expert customer service,” said David Johnson, senior vice president of Blue Sea Systems, in the press release. “We’re looking for candidates who demonstrate these qualities and who want to be a part of a growing, well-regarded company.”
The new positions are engineering manager/senior mechanical design engineer, engineering technician, production supervisor, renewable energy sales engineer, technical writer and information technology technician.
Blue Sea Systems currently has 59 full-time employees and 20 contract workers. To learn more and apply for the positions, click this (link).
Shew Design, a marketing company specializing in graphic design, moved to an office space in downtown Bellingham.
The eight-year-old company will use the three-room space as a creative workspace and a meeting facility. The new address is 115 West Magnolia St., Suite 210.
The open space uses custom made furniture specifically created for the company’s design process, according to a company press release. The presentation room includes a large table for group meetings, a large screen display and is networked for conference calls and remote presentations.
More about the company can be found at shew-design.com. An open house is expected to take place in early March.
Here’s a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notice from the state about a Bellevue company:
Company: CompuCom Application Services (Bellevue) will lay off 60 employees,
effective February 08, 2011
Date of Notification: February 15, 2011
More than one in five Canadians traveled by car to a U.S. airport last year to take a trip using less expensive airline tickets, according to a new Canadian survey.
In its 2011 Canadian Travel Intentions survey, the Hotel Association of Canada estimates 21 percent of Canadians made the trip to a U.S. airport in 2010, up from 18 percent the previous year. Another 11 percent surveyed said that although they had not done so in the past, they might travel to the U.S. for cheaper travel in 2011.
“This has the potential for almost one third of Canadian travelers spending money on foreign airline tickets and taking flights outside of Canada. The dollar at par and high costs for Canadian airports and travel mean that Canadian air carriers are at a distinct disadvantage and cannot offer the prices to match those in the United States,” said Tony Pollard, president of the Hotel Association of Canada, in a press release.
The survey was conducted in January among 1,627 “likely travelers” according to the press release.
If this growth continues, it’ll be interesting to see what this means for the Bellingham International Airport, which has already seen significant growth in its Canadian travelers.