After looking at motels along the Oregon Coast, in Seattle and
Boise, the Singh family of Omak, Wash., chose to buy the Eldorado and
Rodeway Inn motels in Baker City.
“I like the potential of the ones in Baker City the best,” said
Rajbir Singh, who bought the two motels along with his brother,
Sukhvinder Singh, and another relative, Majit Singh, for $1.8 million
on June 21.
The lodging businesses were previously owned by the Bootsma family of Baker City.
Singh said Baker City’s location, along Interstate 84 between the
Elkhorn and Wallowa mountains, along with the town’s authentic western
ambience, appeals to him. The Western heritage was also one of the
things that attracted the Singh family to invest in Omak, a Northern
Washington town that’s home of the Omak Stampede Rodeo and World Famous
“I like small towns. It is more comfortable to be in small towns,” Rajbir Singh said.
Singh said he and his Seattle Realtor were acquainted with the
Bootsma family, who sought to sell the motels after the death of John
Bootsma in January.
It took a crew of nine and a 35-ton crane to lift an 8,200-pound
generator into place to provide backup power for a third-floor data
center under construction at the 10-story Baker Tower building in
downtown Baker City.
Getting the generator in place Tuesday was no easy task, said Mike
Jenson, who owns Michael E. Jenson Construction of Baker City and is
foreman for the data center project.
To support the generator, workers welded a frame of steel I-beams.
The low-boy truck from Redmond Trucking used to haul the generator
to Baker City was too wide to fit in the alley behind Baker Tower,
where electrical wires had been moved to accommodate the crane.
So the generator was lifted first off the low-boy and onto a smaller truck that fit in the alley.
Even after all that, more electrical wires crossing the alley had to be moved to clear a safe path for the crane.
Richard Chaves and his partners are investing $1 million to launch
Synergy Data Center and Services in the historic Baker Tower building,
with hopes of eventually bringing 100 high-tech jobs to Baker City.
Chaves said three Oregon companies, including his own, Chaves
Consulting of Baker City, along with Arikkan Inc. of Salem, and Sace
Inc. of Bend, are forming Synergy Data Center and Services (Synergy
Through Synergy DCS, the partners will be investing about $1 million
in Phase I of the project, which involves installing 42 racks, each
with 36 computer servers, and related equipment needed to get the data
center up and running on the third floor of the Baker Tower.
The 10-story structure, built in 1929 at the corner of Main and
Auburn and known originally as the Hotel Baker, is the tallest building
east of the Cascades.
By ED MERRIMAN
Baker City Herald
In small towns across America, changes in the global political climate
and economy are spurring demand for all manner of local products,
according to “angel investors” who spoke at the June Pubtalk earlier
this month in Baker City.
“We’ve had the worst recession since the 1980s, and there’s been a
structured shift in the economy,” said Wayne Embree, one of three
investors who participated in the panel discussion at Quail Ridge Golf
“Large companies laid off a lot of people who will never go back, but a
lot of jobs sent overseas are coming back. It has to do with changing
ideas about buying local, national pride and things like that. This is
the perfect time to be an entrepreneur,” Embree said.
Joining Embree, who’s the founder and managing partner in Reference
Capital and Cascadia partners, were: Jim Noonan, managing director of
R4 Funding LLC and president of Pivot Point Capital Corp.; and Linda
Weston, who started the Portland Power women’s professional basketball
team in 1996 and has been president and executive director of Oregon
Entrepreneurs Network since 1999.
“You can build world-class companies anywhere,” Embree said. “The key
is understanding what customers want and how to get it to them. We work
with people who have an idea, but don’t have the money, experience or
know-how to run a successful company.”
Report finds that watershed restoration projects can benefit the environment as well as the local economy
Environmental benefits have long been the focus of forest and
watershed restoration projects, but a new study unveiled during a
recent meeting of the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board in Baker City
sheds light on economic factors, including the creation of 163
full-time jobs with watershed councils across the state.
“We’ve come a long way from the volunteer watershed boards and
part-time or volunteer directors we had 10 years ago,” said Cassandra
Moseley, a representative director of the Ecosystem Workforce Program
(EWP) at the University of Oregon, which conducted the economic
In addition to jobs and watershed councils and soil and water
conservation districts involved in planning, applying for grants,
awarding grants and overseeing forest and watershed projects, much of
the on-the-ground work is carried out by contractors, which benefits
local economies and small family businesses even more than traditional
public works projects such as building highways and bridges, according
to Moseley’s report.
She said 188 of 190 contractors interviewed by EWP that contracted
to do forest and watershed restoration work identified themselves as
small family businesses averaging between two and seven employees.
County Commission Chairman Fred Warner Jr. says county will ‘look really hard’ at the proposal
Baker County officials are considering a proposal from the owners of
Ski Anthony Lakes for the county to take over the resort’s lease and
assets and operate the ski area this winter.
Fred Warner Jr., chairman of the Baker County Board of
Commissioners, told members of the Baker County Economic Development
Commission Tuesday that “we haven’t agreed to anything yet.”
“The Anthony Lakes group has brought this up,” Warner said. “They
want it done. The county has agreed to look really hard at it and come
up with a plan of action.”
Ski Anthony Lakes is located on public land managed by the
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, in the Elkhorn Mountains about 34
miles northwest of Baker City.
The resort owns the buildings and other facilities.
Bill Junnila, who manages the resort, said its owners submitted the proposal to the county.
The ownership has changed but the name on the sign, and the services
geared to the needs of Eastern Oregon clients, remain the same at
Elkhorn Title of Baker City.
The new owners include Russell and Sharon Lester, their daughter, Kris Walker, and son-in-law, Ben Case.
The family members are also partners in ownership and/or management
of Eastern Oregon Title in La Grande, and Pioneer Title in Walla Walla.
“The purchase of Elkhorn Title expands their footprint in Eastern
Oregon. It just made sense for all parties,” said Joel Winchester, a
senior title officer and manager at Elkhorn Title.
He said the company’s roots go back to the second-oldest business in Baker City.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs preparing to start a
business can triple their savings, up to a maximum of $10,000 over
three years, under a savings incentive program available through the
Northeast Oregon Economic Development District.
“We have received a new round of funding and have $72,000 in
matching funds available this year,” said Annie Thompson, an NEOEDD
For every dollar saved by qualified entrepreneurs and small business
owners who sign up under the Individual Development Account program,
NEOEDD provides up to $3 in matching funds, Thompson said.
“Imagine how that money could change your business — or your business dreams,” Thompson said.
Radio Shack is searching for an entrepreneur to open a franchise store in Baker City this summer.
“The population of Baker City is one of the largest in Oregon where
we don’t have a Radio Shack store,” said Bill Bartels, area developer
for new Radio Shack stores.
Baker City had a Radio Shack outlet in the Pocahontas Road building
that also housed Lumbermens, but that store closed in 2009 when
Miller’s Home Center bought Lumbermens.
Bartels traveled from his corporate office in Waterford, Wis., last
week to visit Baker City and meet with members of the Baker County
Chamber of Commerce, local bankers and the media to spread the word and
gauge public support for opening a new Radio Shack store in town.
“We talked to some chamber folks, and to some bankers in town, and
they are very encouraged about Radio Shack wanting to open a store in
Baker City,” Bartels said. “We’d like to get something going this
After a comedy routine by Whit Deschner that kept the crowd in
stitches, Jimmy Chan’s restaurant was named Business of the Year and
Jeff Nelson was named Volunteer of the Year Thursday night at the
annual Historic Baker City Inc. awards.
“Whit Deschner was hysterical. He kept us all laughing. He warmed
the crowed up. He was a highlight of the evening,” said Ann Mehaffy,
HBC executive director.
Other HBC awards included the Community Partnerships Award presented
to the Baker Economic Resource Alliance; the Physical Improvements
Award went to Larry and Rosemary Abell for their work on The Pythian
Castle; the Downtown Success Story Award went to Dick and Marge Haynes
of the Short Term Gallery; and the Stepping Up to the Plate Award went
to Terry and Dan McQuisten, owners of the Eltrym Theatre.