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About East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 25, 2017)
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Holiday Inn opens all four floors
By JAYATI RAMAKRISHNAN
Hermiston can welcome
more visitors with the opening
of the new Holiday Inn Express.
The city’s newest hotel,
located at 245 N. First St.
in Hermiston, celebrated its
grand opening Friday with a
ribbon-cutting and tours of
rooms on each of its four floors.
The hotel has 93 rooms, 18
suites and amenities including
a pool, meeting rooms, fitness
center and complimentary
breakfast. It had its soft opening
Dec. 7, opening the top floor for
guests while the rest of the hotel
The hotel is now the tallest
building in Hermiston, and
in the city’s urban renewal
district. It is expected to increase
revenue to other businesses in
the downtown area.
Steven Arrasmith, the hotel’s
general manager, said the
building took almost a year to
construct. He said the company
chose to come to Hermiston
because they wanted to be a
part of the vitality of a growing
“We wanted to be a part of
the growth and up-and-coming
success,” Arrasmith said.
He said business has been
good since the soft opening.
Arrasmith said most of the
SALEM — What can
a collapsed onion shed tell
you about Malheur County’s
It may illustrate the tough
competition the border county
faces with southwestern Idaho, a
problem that two legislators are
trying to address with a proposed
economic development region.
Heavy snow hit the south-
eastern region of Oregon hard
earlier this winter, resulting in
the collapse of key buildings,
including storage sheds for one
of the area’s signature crops.
Some onion purveyors have
already taken their insurance
money and set up shop in Idaho,
where certain policies can make
enterprise more attractive,
according to Rep. Cliff Bentz,
The far flung county often
plays economic second fiddle
to southwestern Idaho, unlike
other small communities in
Eastern Oregon that are a greater
distance from the Gem State’s
border. Certain Oregon policies,
such as a higher minimum wage
and restrictions on land use
planning, can put the county at a
HERMISTON — The Hermiston Chamber
of Commerce is seeking nominations for the
administrative professional of the year.
People are encouraged to nominate their
administrative assistant to be recognized
during a special Administrative Professionals
Day Luncheon. The event is Tuesday, April
25 at 11:45 a.m. at the Hermiston Conference
Center, 415 S. Highway 395. Tickets are $20
each or a table of eight for $140. In addition
to all nominees being recognized, lunch and
giveaways, comedienne Susan Rice will
Nominations are due by Friday, April 14. For
more information, a nomination form or tickets,
contact 541-567-6151, info@hermistonchamber.
com or visit www.hermistonchamber.com.
Workforce board offers help
Staff photo by Jayati Ramakrishnan
Locals and members of the Holiday Inn staff celebrate the opening of Hermiston’s newest
hotel on Friday with a ribbon-cutting.
employees — there are currently
35 — are from Hermiston. He
said he expects they will hire
more as the business starts to
grow, and offer the jobs to locals
Richard Boyles, the president
of InnSight Hotel Management
Group, which owns the hotel,
said he was excited to provide
this service to Hermiston.
“We saw a market that was
underserved in terms of this
quality of product,” he said. “We
aim to deliver a higher level of
Holiday Inn staff said roughly
150 people attended the open
house over the two-hour period.
Ramakrishnan at 541-564-4534
Economic development region proposed for Malheur
By CLAIRE WITHYCOMBE
for admin assistant award
A new proposal, first read
Thursday in the Oregon House
and sponsored by Bentz and
Oregon Speaker of the House
Tina Kotek, D-Portland, is a
gesture to rural Oregon. It was
in the works before the snow
hit, but has taken on new signifi-
cance in the wake of the storms,
“We’re saying to (Malheur
County) that we care and we
want businesses to stay in
Ontario,” Kotek said.
The proposal would dedicate
$10 million in proceeds from
lottery bonds in the next two-year
budget cycle for a new economic
development region in the cities
of Ontario, Vale, Nyssa and
Bentz was adamant that
it’s early yet for the proposal,
though. He has introduced
another bill to defer minimum
wage increases in Malheur and
Baker counties for two years,
and says he wants to attract
more higher-wage jobs to the
area through economic devel-
Bentz said the county is
doing better than it has in some
time in terms of unemployment.
The recession hit the county
hard, reaching a high of 14
percent unemployment in April
2009, according to the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Poverty rates between 1995
and 2015 in southeastern Oregon
exceeded state and national
rates in that period, according
to Oregon’s economic analysis
office. Generally, economic
recoveries of the kind the state
is seeing now — especially in
the Portland Metro region and in
the Bend area — take a while to
reach rural Oregon.
The proposed economic
development region would be
led by a local board that would
make policy and award grants
and loans to entities such as
businesses, school districts
and local governments. The
seven-member board would be
appointed by the governor.
Kotek said she was influ-
enced by a three-day trip she
took to the area in June 2016,
at the invitation of Bentz, and
acknowledged the perceived
distance — not just geographic
— between Malheur County
and policymaking in Salem. She
thinks the proposal can show the
area the Legislature is “serious”
about promoting the county’s
Should such a program
make it through the legislative
process, its work and outcomes
would likely be overseen by the
Oregon Business Development
But Kotek also said she didn’t
know how much support the bill
would have in the Legislature.
Both chambers have significant
membership from the state’s
metro areas, which have higher
Legislators are expected
to have about $200 million in
lottery bonding capacity in the
upcoming two-year budget
to fund important projects,
At $10 million, if awarded,
the Malheur County program
would take up 5 percent of
the expected lottery bonding
capacity — a significant sum
for a county of that size and
for a competitive state funding
Kotek believes the dollars
could go further in Malheur
County, though, compared to
the Portland Metro area, for
The bill has been referred
to the House Committee on
Economic Development and
LA GRANDE — Money is available to
manufacturing and health care companies in
several Eastern Oregon counties to assist with
retraining current employees.
Available in Umatilla, Morrow, Baker,
Grant, Harney, Malheur, Union and Wallowa
counties, the Eastern Oregon Workforce Board
has dedicated $40,000 through the Incumbent
Worker Training Program. This could include
training in new or advanced skills that enable an
employee to multi-task or be more productive.
At this time, the program is limited to
businesses in the manufacturing or health
care sectors. Priority for funding is given to
applicants who demonstrate that funding could
assist them in avoiding a layoff, downsizing
or closure, or would provide retention
opportunities by upgrading employee skills as a
result of the training.
For more information, call Tara Bishop at
541-278-5688 (Umatilla/Morrow counties) or
Eric LaBonte at 541-963-7942 (other counties
listed). For more about the Eastern Oregon
Workforce Board, visit www.eowb.org.
Latino Business Network
hosts resource fair
HERMISTON — An informational forum to
connect people to employers and services in our
region is planned in Hermiston.
The Latino Business Network is hosting
the Community Agricultural Workers and
Employers Resource Fair. The free event is
Wednesday, March 8 from 5-7:30 p.m. at the
Hermiston Conference Center, 415 S. Highway
395. A free dinner will be served by Fiesta
Vendor applications are available at the
conference center or www.hermistonchamber.
com. For more information about the Latino
Business Network or the upcoming resource
fair, call the chamber at 541-567-6151.
Yakama tribal casino
opens 200-room hotel
TOPPENISH, Wash. (AP) — The Yakama
Nation is opening a 200-room hotel at its
Legends Casino near the town of Toppenish.
The Yakima Herald-Republic says the hotel
opens to the public on Saturday.
It’s a central part of a $90 million expansion
for Legends Casino, which seeks to stay
competitive with other tribal-owned casinos
throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The expansion is expected to generate 200
new jobs for the casino, which opened in 1998.
Currently, it employs 745 workers.
John Cooper, CEO of Yakima Valley
Tourism, says the hotel adds an upscale option
to the lodging mix in the central Yakima Valley.
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