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More than 4,800 fans flocked Monteith RIverpark in Albany for the Crazy 8s at the River Rhythms concert last summer. Events such as these concerts draw people from out of town to the mid-valley. MARK YLEN | MID-VALLEY INBUSINESS
Events drive mid-valley tourism Big musical names, wine walks, OSU, historic attractions draw out-of-towners By MARIA L. KIRKPATRICK ocation, climate and the beauty of nature make the mid-valley an ideal spot to visit — but it’s specific events tied to specific interests that really help to drive tourists to the area, experts said. Festivals, museums and similar events and institutions draw well from surrounding communities, said Oscar Hult, director of the Albany Downtown Association. But events tied to specific interests, such as wine walks, which tend to be popular with locals and visitors, and the Northwest Art & Air Festival, with its centerpiece concert, that really lure out-of-town visitors into the mid-valley. Big musical names draw followers from out of town. During last year’s River Rhythms series at Monteith Park in Albany, for example, fans of the group The Coats flocked from as far as Seattle to Albany’s Monteith Riverpark and stayed the weekend. This year, Styx will headline the Northwest Art & Air Festival in August. Jimmie Lucht, executive director of the Albany Visitors Association, said this should add desirability to the festival, and he expects visitor counts, which have been reported at 30,000 for the weekend, to increase. Planned this summer is the Dog Days of Summer street festival. As a fundraiser for Safehaven Humane Society, Hult said dog lovers from all over will attend. Pet friendly accommodations in the area will be included in marketing materials and Hult expects dogs and their owners to stay the weekend and enjoy all the city has to offer. Albany’s historic home tours draw people from around the world, said Lucht. He said people come from Sweden and Germany to look at the authentically restored homes. A growing tourist attraction is Albany’s carousel project. Lucht said about around 2,000 people visit each month from all over to watch artists create animal forms. Also popular are covered bridges. Oregon has about 50 such bridges, and five are clustered in the Crabtree and Scio area. Fans traveling across the state frequently stay in the mid-valley during their trek. The Visitors Center in Albany works with lodging services and the Linn County Expo Center to put together packages to entice visitors to stay in town for entertainment and dining. The Linn County Expo Center helps to keep Albany’s tourism industry busy. Most every weekend is filled with events that draw participants and spectators. Jan Taylor, marketing and events manager for the center, said 300,000 people come through each year. From January through May, every weekend is booked for events from gun shows to dog shows to home and garden shows. The recent Northwest Horse Fair recently drew 14,000 for one weekend. Rising gas prices shouldn’t make much of an impact
In the mid-valley, nearly 3,000 employees worked to take care of travelers needs. Here’s a breakdown, sector by sector, in the tourism industry.
Linn County 824 jobs in accommodations and food service 388 jobs in arts, entertainment and recreation 194 jobs in retail 44 jobs in other travel 17 jobs in ground transportation 1,470 total Linn County visitors spent $112 million in 2010, up from $103.5 million in 2009
Benton County ANDY CRIPE | CORVALLIS GAZETTE-TIMES
Bo Segerman rides during the saddle bronc event last year at the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo. Events such as the rodeo are building Philomath’s tourism industry. on numbers, Taylor said. People who come to expo events typically are really into their cause. “If they are fans, they decide to spend their money and gas prices won’t really matter,” she said. As busy as things are, Taylor always is looking for ways to increase the numbers. She said when Oregon State University football games are in Corvallis, events in Albany drop off. So she considers all kinds of requests. Coming up is a garbage rodeo. “Seriously,” Taylor said. Waste workers get together and show off their skills. “Why not,” she said. “We’ve got lots of open space out here for parking where they can run their vehicles and they can have their conferences inside. They bring people in from all over the state.”
733 jobs in accommodations and food service 456 jobs in arts, entertainment and recreation 161 jobs in retail 29 jobs in travel 16 jobs in ground transportation 1,390 total Visitors to Benton County spent $94.9 million in 2010, up from $84.6 million in 2009 Source: A report by Dean Runyan Associates prepared for the Oregon Tourism Commission.
Benton County, if it’s a football weekend, (tourism) is huge,” Summers said. “Other times, it’s just there. The biggest thing to see is OSU.” In Lebanon and the eastern portions of Linn County, nature trails, fishing and camping are tourist attractions, said Shelly Garrett, director of the Lebanon chamber. “Our 50 miles of interconnected trails, bird watching and geocaching bring in tourists,” Garrett said. “People come for fly and drift boat fishing and camping. Our draw is outdoor-oriented.” Lebanon’s tourism committee uses funds from hotel Impact on jobs and motel taxes to advertise to outdoor enthusiasts. In Linn County, 1,470 jobs are impacted by tourism. Lebanon is working to improve baseball and soccer Visitor spending was reported at $112 million in 2010, up venues to draw people from out of town to weekend from $104 million in 2009. tournaments. In Benton County, 1,390 jobs depend on tourism and Also in the works is a blues festival. Garrett said the visitors brought in about $95 million in 2010, an increase aim is to draw blues fans for the weekend, much like from $85 million the year before. Sweet Home’s Oregon Jamboree, which draws country In comparison, Deschutes County, a well-known des- music fans from Washington and California. tination offering many tourist attractions and outdoor In Benton County, one has to dig past football to find activities, including skiing, saw $536 million in visitor activities that consistently draw tourists from out of spending for 2010 and $490 million in 2009. town, but there are some promising developments, such William Summers, work force analyst for the Oregon as the growth of breweries in Corvallis. Employment Department, said Linn County has higher “Breweries are a draw in Oregon across the board,” said numbers due to Hoodoo, more campground stays and Iain Duncan, owner of Flat Tail Brewery in Corvallis. the convention center. Corvallis is moving up in popularity as microbrew “Corvallis is not a destination,” Summers said. “In SEE TOURISM | A6
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MARK YLEN | ALBANY DEMOCRAT-HERALD
Spectators watch as balloons participating in Night Glow reflect off of Timber-Linn Lake last summer. The event is part of the Northwest Art & Air Festival in Albany.
Tourism Continued from page A5
AMANDA COWAN | CORVALLIS GAZETTE-TIMES
Rick Petersen, president and CEO of PEAK Internet, walks through the data center in Corvallis earlier this month.
Homegrown service PEAK Internet aims to stay customer focused with controlled growth By JENNIFER ROUSE n 1986, Ronald Reagan was in the White House, Whitney Houston was on the radio airwaves, and a little project called Public Electronic Access to Knowledge was created in the Computer Science Department at Oregon State University. Politicians and pop singers have come and gone in the 26 years since then, but that little project — originally OSU’s in-house email network — still is around. Now known as PEAK Internet, the company has moved across the street into an office on Western Boulevard that originally housed CH2M Hill. It’s now an independent Internet service provider, and also provides business and technical support to a number of clients. It’s undergone a series of mergers and acquisitions, and is a subsidiary of three local telephone and power cooperatives: Stayton Cooperative Telephone Co., Consumers Power and Pioneer Telephone Cooperative. Even after those 26 years of growth, PEAK still prides itself on its homegrown attitude. And despite recently winning the large business of the year award at the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce’s annual Distinguished Service Award event, Petersen said the company, which has fewer than 50 employees, has a small-business feel. It doesn’t try to be the biggest or the cheapest Internet service provider in town. Instead, according to Rick Petersen, the company’s president and CEO, it aims to be a customer-focused, locally grown alternative to the big guys in the Internet game. “We treat people as human beings,” said Petersen. “People tell us that this is why they stay with PEAK.” Peak’s service area now covers most of Oregon, providing access to more than 10,000 customers on its own PEAK accounts, and serving an equal number of customers on bandwidth that it wholesales to other
FIVE KEYS TO SUCCESS Here are some keys to success for PEAK Internet, courtesy of Rick Petersen, the company’s president and CEO: 1. Personal service. “We are a company with a face,” Petersen said. PEAK has offices in Corvallis and Lebanon, and representatives also make house calls. “You can have a conversation. You can come in and talk to a tech. Our people live and work right here.” 2. Service in rural and remote areas. “We offer broadband in places others can’t,” Petersen said. With wireless transmitters on seven different mountaintops around the state and also satellite Internet access, PEAK is available in areas not covered by some of its larger competitors. 3. Getting and retaining quality staff. Petersen said by offering flexibility and work/life balance, PEAK is able to hang onto its good employees and recruit new ones. Some employees work flexible hours or telecommute. All employees are encouraged to take a certain percentage of their on-the-clock hours and spend them volunteering for the charity of their choice. 4. Prioritizing customer service. Call center employees are not measured solely on how fast they can get through a call and get on to the next customer — the important thing is resolving the problem to the customer’s satisfaction. “We do have metrics. We don’t want to keep callers waiting on the phone for 10 minutes,” Petersen said.“But at the same time we encourage reps to spend time with the customer.” 5. Investment in technology. Petersen said PEAK reinvests its capital in technical upgrades to keep its Internet service offerings fast and glitch-free.
providers. They’re not interested in getting any bigger, Petersen said. “We not looking at geographic growth,” he said. “We have no interest in other states.” Instead, he plans to grow by selling additional services to existing customers, and by expanding the technical support and professional services PEAK offers to businesses. “We want to provide added value for the customers we already have,” he said. That could mean upgrading
internet speed. It could also mean expanding the company’s video offerings — streaming video over the internet is an area they’re looking at for future growth, Petersen said — or even expanding into smart home technology, such as having a notification sent to your smartphone when the UPS guy leaves a package at your door.
Technology source The other part of PEAK’s business involves being not just an Internet service provider, but a provider of all things tech-related for businesses. One recent venture is “cloud-based” services, a partnership with Intel in which companies can lease software and store files over the Internet, without ever having to purchase a physical copy of a program. “This is a huge benefit if you’re traveling and you need to access something,” Petersen said. “I don’t have to get it off one particular hard drive. The file is just there.” PEAK rents server space in its temperature-controlled, generatorbacked facility for companies that don’t want to or can’t afford to house their own servers. It also functions as a de facto IT staff for small businesses who would otherwise be relying on a tech-oriented friend or relative whenever their computer has a problem. These businesses, in particular, Petersen said, are a niche market that can benefit from having someone they can call for IT service. “We help businesses who can’t afford to have that full-time IT staff,” he said. Even larger businesses who may have their own technical staff but just can’t afford to keep their help lines staffed around the clock use PEAK for their 24/7 call center. Petersen said they function as the call center for a number of companies, whose names he did not disclose. “This lets your staff sleep at night,” he said. “Our people eat and breathe this.”
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fans begin to take notice of increased activity among the city’s breweries. Duncan said Flat Tail fans drive in from all over the state to check out new beers. Duncan said he has built up a good presence in Portland and consistently won medals at brew competitions. Similarly, wineries attract visitors to the midvalley, said Marci Sischo, social media coordinator at the Visit Corvallis Convention and Visitors Bureau. In addition, Sischo said, outdoor activities are a draw, with the county’s miles of paved and multiuse trails. “We are starting to see more biking tours from Portland,” Sischo said. People come for the outdoor atmosphere and stay to enjoy the food and festivals. In the works are more cycling events.
OSU impacts Oregon State University attracts visitors for academic conferences at its 90,000-square-foot meeting space, comprising of CH2M Hill Alumni Center and LaSells Stewart Center. Kavinda Arthenayake, director of conference services at OSU, has been at his job since July 2003 and has been working to improve conference abilities on campus. It was on OSU property and at the request of OSU that the Hilton built its Garden Inn across the street from the conference center nearly nine years ago. Arthenayake has grown conferences from two a year to 60 to 70 conferences a year. “We went from about 300 people,” he said,“to average nearly 12,000 people per year. “The activity we generate has quite an impact,” Arthenayake said. “We generate about 85 percent of (the Hilton’s) room nights. They, in turn, generate Transient Occupancy Taxes.” Last fiscal year, Corvallis hotels and motels raised $1.19 million in TOT funds. About two-thirds of that
money came from two hotels, the Garden Inn and the Holiday Inn Express. Corvallis still is lacking in high-end places to stay, Arthenayake said. When the rooms are full, OSU generates enough business for groups to stay overnight in residence halls when students are not on campus. (A proposal for a new hotel in downtown Corvallis is being developed and is headed toward a Planning Commission hearing later this spring.) “We bring people to the community,” Arthenayake said. “It is an economic multiplier.” To put things into perspective, Arthenayake said, football games net about $45 per visitor on game days. A three-day conference generates about $360 per person because they will stay for food and to shop. Just west of campus, Philomath is working to build its own tourism. Nancy Elwer, director at the Philomath Chamber, said about 13,000 people drive through town each day. While Philomath may not be a destination for overnight stays, the town is noted for its wineries and its unique shops draw visitors statewide. “Some (shops) are known statewide and some are even known nationally,” Elwer said.“Many are familyowned businesses and have a following of faithful customers. People appreciate the personal service provided by family owned businesses.” Places such as the Alpaca Farm Store, Greengable Gardens and Gathering Together Farm are draws for tourists, she said. While visiting, many tourists also take in an afternoon at the Benton County Historical Museum, Elwer said. The chamber is dedicated to promoting local businesses, organizations and events and sponsors several events through-out the year that draw visitors to Philomath, including a classic car show and the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo.
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B US I N ES S DATA Residential Average Sales Price by Area
Unemployment Rate Feb. 2012
8.9 8.3 8.2
8.7 8.6 6.4 5.8 5.7
March 2011 16% 14% 12% 10% 8% 6% 4% 2% 0
Source: Oregon Employment Department Note: Data are seasonally adjusted.
325 300 275 250 225 200 175 150 125
299,687 238,321 Benton County Linn County
Units sold past year
Units sold past year
Units sold past year
Average sales prices
March 2012 March 2011
405 108 15 491
492 128 26 462
154,262 225,989 147,686 274,151
Average sales price
155,198 242,712 152,301 278,689
Source: Willamette Valley Multiple Listing Service
Mid-Valley Residential Report
Albany N. Albany Brownsville Corvallis
Units sold past year
Independence Jefferson Lebanon Philomath Sweet Home
62 50 295 72 131
Average sales prices
53 54 315 80 129
Average sales price
March 2012 March 2011
146,900 200,979 130,697 242,074 121,424
217,175 195,448 150,775 238,006 119,184
Source: Willamette Valley Multiple Listing Service
Corvallis MSA (Benton County) Nonfarm Payroll Employment Source: Oregon Employment Department Natural resources, mining and construction Manufacturing Trade, transportation and utilities Information Financial activities Professional and business services Educational and health services Leisure and hospitality Other services Federal government State government Local government
March ’12 1,110 3,190 4,290 770 1,370 3,680 5,710 3,120 1,190 550 10,380 2,850
Feb. ’12 1,110 3,190 4,260 780 1,360 3,660 5,690 3,080 1,200 560 10,220 2,830
March ’11 1,130 3,300 4,380 790 1,350 3,770 5,730 3,450 1,220 570 10,010 2,880
Total nonfarm payroll employment
Change from Feb. ‘12 March ’11 0 -20 0 -100 30 -90 -10 -20 10 20 20 -90 20 -20 40 -330 -10 -30 0 -20 160 370 20 -30 280
Linn County Nonfarm Payroll Employment Source: Oregon Employment Department
1,880 6,540 8,390 360 1,250 3,070 4,920 2,980 1,290 330 1,170 5,890
1,940 6,480 8,400 360 1,250 3,100 4,900 3,000 1,280 330 1,180 5,830
1,980 6,630 8,380 370 1,210 3,260 4,850 3,040 1,310 330 1,210 6,380
-60 60 -10 0 0 -30 20 -20 10 0 -10 60
-100 -90 10 -10 40 -190 70 -60 -20 0 -40 -490
Natural resources, mining and construction Manufacturing Trade, transportation and utilities Information Financial activities Professional and business services Educational and health services Leisure and hospitality Other services Federal government State government Local government Total nonfarm payroll employment
Change from Feb. ‘12 March ’11
SCARIANO ATPARTNER’S MEETING: Chris Scariano,an Edward Jones financial advisor in Albany,recently traveled to St.Louis to attend the firm’s annual Partners’Meeting.Scariano was named a principal with the firm’s holding company,the Jones Financial Cos., in 2011.Of the more than 29,000 Edward Jones associates across the globe,there are more than 300 principals in the firm.Among the criteria for being invited into the partnership are production, office profitability, leadership in assisting and training other associates and recruiting.Attending the annual Partners’Meeting enables Scariano to voice opinions on Edward Jones’direction and policies. MEMBERS JOIN FALL FESTIVAL BOARD: The Corvallis Fall Festival Board of Directors has two newly elected members: Jeff Lesmeister and Shaun Hearn. Lesmeister Lesmeister is a business consultant who brings planning and financial expertise to the board. Hearn works for the Corvallis-Benton County Public LiHearn brary, and hopes to build on the strong relationship the festival already has with the library.They join other members George Abele, Mike Bergen, Deb Bynum,Joyce Canan, Gretchen Cuevas, Kelly Ensor, Barb Eveland, Inge King, Claire Magee, Patty Lorenzen, Travis Oefelein and Steve Sparkes. The Corvallis Fall Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Dates for the event are Sept. 22 and 23. UMPQUA BANK HIRES LOAN COORDINATOR: Umpqua Bank, a subsidiary of Umpqua Holdings Corporation, recently hired Pamela Troxel as a loan coordinator for Umpqua’s Troxel Mortgage Division serving Benton and Linn counties. Troxel will gather documentation and prepare mortgage loan applications for validation and underwriting approval. She has eight years of real estate and office management experience in the Willamette Valley, and is an active member in Soroptimist International of Albany.
CORVALLIS CLINIC HIRES NEW IT DIRECTOR: Patrick Wylie is the new director of information technology at The Corvallis Clinic.Wylie started March 26,and succeeds Wylie Chief Operating Officer Rod Aust in the role of director of IT. Wylie previously worked at St. Joseph Health System in Santa Rosa,Calif.,where he was area director for ITServices since 2003.In Santa Rosa,he was in charge of IT services at two hospitals,a physician group,urgent care centers,outpatient labs and home care services in Sonoma County.Wylie brings skills in the areas of ITproject planning and management,electronic health record advancement, process improvement and exchanging health information between community providers.Wylie received a bachelor of science degree in computer science from Sonoma State University in California. LIVE WELL ADDS YOGA TEACHER: Live Well Studio, LLC, has added Eric Shaw to its 200-hour yoga teacher training roster. Shaw will co-lead summer training with Lisa Wells. He is a teacher of yoga philosophy, science and history. He maintains a national and international teaching schedule, and is known for his innovative approach to the practice. He has certifications from Kripalu Yoga and Yogaworks, seven years of shadow yoga study and practice, and postgraduate degrees in teaching, art, religious studies and Hindu studies. The studio is at 971 N.W. Spruce Ave., Corvallis. Learn more at www.livewellstudio.com. TOWN & COUNTRY OPENS NEW DIVISION: Pete Sekermestrovich, principal broker and owner of Town & Country Realty, has announced the May 1 opening of the PropSekermestrovich erty Management division. Catherine Fisher has been appointed property manager for Town & Country Realty Property Management. Fisher Fisher is a native of Corvallis and a licensed principal broker, and has 15 years of real estate property management and sales experience.
BUSINESS BRIEFING DAT E B O O K Willamette Community Bank has record quarter ALBANY — Willamette Community Bank has announced a record first quarter 2012 before tax income of $171,000 and after tax net income of $104,000. First quarter 2012 earnings represented a net income increase of $75,000, or 259 percent, compared to its net income of $29,000 over the same period in 2011. Earnings per share were 16 cents compared to 4 cents for the first quarter ending 2011. The return on average assets first quarter 2012 was .50 percent compared to .14 percent for the same period ending 2011. The return on equity was 5.62 percent for the first quarter 2012 and 1.65 percent for the comparable period last year. Willamette Community Bank is the only locally owned community bank headquartered in Albany. The company has offices in Al-
bany and Lebanon. For more information see www.willamette communitybank.com.
Area credit unions complete merger EUGENE — Forest Park Federal Credit Union in Portland has completed the process of merging with SELCO Community Credit Union in Eugene. In September 2011, Forest Park Federal Credit Union, a $40 million Portland-based credit union, selected SELCO as its strategic merger partner of choice. The merger became official on Jan. 1, and operational integration was completed on April 1. SELCO Community Credit Union is the third-largest Oregonbased credit union in the state. The two Portland branches will increase member access to a total of 15 branches located in Albany, Bend, Eugene, Portland, Redmond, Salem and Springfield. — Mid-Valley InBusiness
Today: Internet security seminar, 5 to 7 p.m., LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St., Corvallis. Topics will include wireless security, password security, virus and trojan horse protection, content filtering, mobile device security and social media security. Participants can submit questions prior to the event so panel members will have an answer ready during the question-and-answer portion. Offered by PEAK Internet and Linn-Benton Community College. Registration: Joseph Bailey, 541-917-4923; or www.peakinternet.com. Tuesday-Thursday: Living Future Conference, Portland. Hosted by the International Living Future Institute.A forum for leading minds in the green building movement. Registration: http://cascadiagbc.org/living-future/12. Wednesday:Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals. Speaker: Joseph Bailey, LBCC.Time: 11:45 to 1 p.m., Phoenix Inn, 3410 Spicer Dr. S.E.,Albany. Cost: $15 chamber members; $20 guests. Info: 541-926-1517. Thursday: Oregon State University College of Business Oregon CEO Summit: “Real Estate Now: Rethinking,Renewing,Reinventing.” Keynote speaker: Tom Tommey,president/CEO United Dominion Realty Inc.Time: 7:30 to 9:15 a.m.,Governor Hotel,514 S.W.11th Ave.,Portland.Cost: $50 (includes breakfast).Info: http://business.oregonstate.edu/CEOSummit.
Saturday: Food Intolerances and Allergies presentation and discussion. Speaker: Dr. Zia Robles Hernandez, naturopathic physician, Natural Elements Medicine. Time: 1:15 p.m., Fortier Allied Healthcare, 220 Fifth Ave. S.W., Albany. Free. Info: Call 541-926-0510; email email@example.com. May 7-8: Oregon Employer Council State Conference for Business. Time: Linn County Fair & Expo Center, 3700 Knox Butte Road, Albany. Cost: $329 before April 7; $379 after April 7. Info: Ron Schonrey, 503-947-1305. May 8: Linn-Benton Livestock & Forages Breakfast Program: “Sheep Update”by Jim Thompson,OSU sheep specialist.Time: 6:30 to 8 a.m.,Pioneer Villa Restaurant and Truck Stop, 33180 Highway 228,Halsey.Info: Joel Pynch, 541-466-5344 or Shelby Filley,541-672-4461. May 8: “Red Alder Management,” 9 a.m., Lincoln County Oregon State University Lincoln County Extension Service office, 29 S.E. Second St., Newport. The class will cover information on potential values and benefits from alder in your forest, tools for evaluating your options, and key steps in stand establishment, tree spacing, pruning, harvesting and marketing. Dress for a field session. Cost: $25 per person; bring a lunch. Registration deadline: Friday. Information: http://extension. oregonstate.edu/lincoln/forestry/news.
May 8: Lebanon Economic Summit. Time: 5:30 to 8 p.m., The River Center, 3000 S. Santiam Highway, Lebanon. Free to the public. Info: 541-258-7164. May 15: Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours. Time: 5:15 to 7 p.m., Hayden Homes, North Pointe Model Homes, 847 North Pointe Drive N.W., Albany. Cost: $6 members, $7 at the door; $10 nonmembers. Info: 541-926-1517 May 17: Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours. Time: 5 to 7 p.m., Dental offices of Dr. Kirkpatrick, 270 S. Main St., Lebanon. Cost: $8. Info: 541-2587164. May 25: Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce forum lunch. Speakers: Will Summers and Greg Ivers, Oregon Employment Department. Time: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital, 525 N. Santiam Highway, Lebanon. Cost: $13. Info: 541258-7164. June 13-14: 2012 Oregon Brownfields Conference and Awards Luncheon, DoubleTree Hotel, Portland. A learning and networking opportunity for those working to make contaminated properties economically viable for reuse. Early-bird registration deadline: May 7. Cost: $225 by May 7, $250 after. Registration: www.ettend.com/id=2303.
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