Economy, Business, Finance, and Labor

Economy and business news

Salcido Connection, Inc.

One of the Northwest’s selling points is its cheap hydropower. That’s why in recent years data centers have sprouted along the Columbia River in both Washington and Oregon.

But in north central Washington, an emerging power-hungry industry is meeting with some resistance. It involves the making and managing of the virtual currency called bitcoin.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Once upon a time, the Northwest was home to ten massive aluminum smelters. As of today, just one still operates. And the Alcoa company plans to idle that smelter near Ferndale, Washington, indefinitely in June.

Is it the end for a one-time pillar of the Northwest economy or merely a pause?

Rennett Stowe / Flickr - tinyurl.com/hmapbp7

Working in a prison is a dangerous job. Inmates outnumber officers and fights are common. Fourteen-year veteran correctional officer Patrick McPherson said over the course of his career he’s been assaulted four or five times.

Alcoa

Washington's governor is ruling out a direct public subsidy to save the jobs of hundreds of workers at the Northwest's last operational aluminum smelters. But other forms of support such as retraining assistance remain under consideration.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has announced her support for a major hike in the state's minimum wage. Brown said she hopes her new proposal will encourage the backers of two initiative campaigns to lay down their signature-gathering pens.

Brown's proposal would raise the hourly minimum wage to $15.52 in the Portland metro area and $13.50 in the rest of the state. The increase would be phased in over the next six years.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Early this year, piles of deep snow drifted into Burns, Oregon, and so did the outsiders and their money. Gas stations, cafes and hotels are seeing packed crowds in normally sleepy winter.

For businesses, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation is a boom. After Christmas in Burns, some local businesses just shutter for months until spring. Others, like the America’s Best Value Inn usually lay off most of their staff.

Maid Liz Houer said she usually doesn’t have enough work this time of year to keep on.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington voters could decide in November on a combined minimum wage and sick leave measure . A union-backed campaign calling itself “Raise Up Washington” filed an initiative Monday to raise the state’s base wage to $13.50 an hour by 2020.

A7nubis / Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/zjv3zzz

There's been a lot of interest in opening a licensed recreational marijuana business in Oregon. The state received nearly 200 paid submissions in the first two days since it began taking applications.

Kay Steele / USFWS http://on.fb.me/1ONMj3h

In east Oregon, Harney County has seen more tourists -- a lot of them Baby-Boomer birders. Now bird-watchers and business leaders alike are fretting over the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by an armed group.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The fast expansion and spectacular meltdown of the Haggen grocery chain has left thousands of people in the Northwest with fewer places to buy their groceries. Safeway even got a monopoly as the only large supermarket in a whole county of eastern Oregon.

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