Monday, April 11, 2011

News, from national down to local!

Last month we mentioned that retail sales across the U.S. were unseasonably strong in February. The latest news indicates that March was a good month for retail, too. Given the rising cost of food and fuel, this news came as a bit of a surprise. What's less surprising, given the Easter holiday season, is that many retailers expect to see strong sales continue in April.

If you track "green" announcements, you're sure to have heard GE's announcement last week: the company is planning to build a big solar panel manufacturing facility in the United States. Just how big? The largest in the country, apparently. Big enough to employ 400 people. And since GE hasn't announced the location of the new factory, Oregon still has a chance to woo the company -- and those 400 jobs -- to the Beaver State.

Last week the University of Oregon released its monthly index of economic indicators. From January to February the index rose 0.7 percent, continuing the steady growth rate that started last fall. The index includes seven measures of the state's economic health, and three of them "showed significant improvement" in February. To find out which indicators improved, check out the full article.

For a bit of local news, here's something that Gail and I are looking forward to seeing in Salem: Trader Joe's. Just a few months ago the company announced plans to open its first location in Salem, on the south end of town in a vacant retail space. Remodeling work commenced shortly thereafter. As the Statesman Journal put it, the store is really taking shape. Although the company hasn't announced the official opening date, customers might be able to walk through the doors as early as this summer.

Speaking of ongoing projects, it sounds like construction at Facebook's new data center in Prineville is finally complete, as the site is slated to "open" later this week! In advance of the big day, Facebook made an unexpected announcement: The company shared design details for the inside of center. The site uses innovative methods to improve energy efficiency, and the company previously wanted to keep the specs a secret. But now, Facebook has changed its course, hoping instead that sharing the design and collaborating with other companies will lead to continued improvements. (My opinion? Hooray for teamwork!)

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