Despite the worst economic conditions in decades nationwide, banks in
Union County are by and large healthy and conducting business pretty
much as they always have.
That was a message heard at a recent Rotary Club luncheon Feb. 24
when three local banking executives brought club members up to date.
“We’ve bucked the national trend. Locally, it’s business as usual.
Nothing has changed,” said Craig Nightingale, commercial loan officer
for Banner Bank.
Corrine Dutto, a physical therapist at Mountain Valley Therapy in La
Grande, recently put her skills to use at the Special Olympics World
Winter Games in Boise.
PROUD VOLUNTEER: Corrine Dutto, a physical therapist with Mountain Valley Therapy, recently lent her professional expertise to athletes competing in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise. Submitted photo
Dutto was one of many physical therapists from across the country
who volunteered their expertise for the Healthy Athlete Program
designed to improve athletes’ health and fitness.
“I enjoyed meeting with the athletes. They were all very polite and worked very hard,” Dutto said.
The team of consultants visiting La Grande two weeks ago for the Oregon Main Street Program found a lot of things to like.
J.C. Penny’s early presence in La Grande can be seen on the side of the former Mamacita’s restaurant building. Observer photo/PHIL BULLOCK
Gary Van Huffel of the Oregon Community and Economic Development
Department, and Nicholas Kalogeresis and Kevin Clark of the Lakota
Group, spent two days touring the city, talking with business owners
and meeting with city officials.
They said said they found a high level of commitment to downtown
revitalization, and enough physical assets to put the effort on a solid
best wishes: Primos owner Dave Ricker, right, gets a handshake from Northeast Oregon Economic Development District board member Terry Hughes. Looking on are board member Jeremy Gilpin, and Donna Talbott of the Eastern Oregon University Small Business Development Center. Submitted photo
Take a couple of people with entrepreneurial daring and grit, add
some help from local economic development agencies, stir in a generous
portion of private sector financing, and what do you get?
A healthy new business providing 25 jobs.
Primos, a buffet-style pizza and pasta restaurant with an
all-you-can-eat menu, has been open in the Wal-Mart shopping complex
On Thursday and Friday, the City of La Grande will be receiving a
Resource Team visit from Oregon Main Street, a statewide commercial
revitalization program administered through the Oregon Economic and
Community Development Department.
Last September, La Grande was selected by the state to participate in Oregon Main Street’s Transforming Downtown program.
The owner of one of La Grande’s oldest and most successful businesses
received a high honor recently, when he was nominated for Time
Magazine’s Auto Dealer of the Year Award.
Mark Goss, president and general manager of M.J. Goss Motor Co. ,
was among a select group of dealers from around the nation nominated
for the award, one of the most coveted among new car dealers.
He was picked to represent the Oregon Automobile Dealers Association
at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in New
Orleans in January.
Nominations are open for the second annual Entrepreneur of the Year
Awards sponsored by the Northeast Oregon Economic Development District.
The award is sponsored by the Northeast Oregon Economic Development
District and coincides with the celebration of National
Nominations are due by Feb. 13.
Bad news: Housing sales in Union County and Northeast Oregon took a dramatic tumble in the past year.
Good news: the local market still hasn’t plunged to the depths sales have in larger, metropolitan areas.
“Our values haven’t been dropping substantially,” said John Howard,
principal broker for John Howard and Associates Real Estate. “It’s
nothing like Bend or some areas in California where you had
subdivisions leapfrogging out. Our county never got into oversupply.
The supply was meeting buyers’ needs, or maybe a little less.”
Wildflower Lodge, an assisted living community in La Grande, has changed hands and is operating under new management.
Wildflower Lodge is home to 43 clients on the assisted living side and 22 in the memory care wing. The facility employs about 45 workers. The Observer/BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH
The facility, which includes a unit for patients with memory
problems, is now owned by Lonestar Real Estate Fund, of Dallas Texas,
and managed by LaVida Communities, an operator and manager of
value-oriented senior living communities throughout the U.S.
LaVida Communities, a member of the Senior Resource Group family of
companies, recently assumed management of 41 facilities formerly owned
by financially-troubled Sunwest Management. Inc.
The La Grande Main Street Program is set for an official launch
Thursday, as the City of La Grande hosts a “kickoff” event at the
Maxine and Thomas W Cook Memorial Library.
The event will take place in the Colleen F. Johnson Community Room
at the library, 2006 Fourth St. All community members with an interest
in downtown La Grande, and especially those willing to take on an
active role in the program, are encouraged to attend.
Charlie Mitchell, La Grande’s Community & Economic Development
director, said the Oregon Main Street Program is a volunteer-driven
approach to downtown revitalization.