Summer on the Streets
Construction Zone Ahead - Summer on the Streets
Spring has sprung and summer is on its way, which in Oregon also means the start of the road construction season. If you're traveling like me you're seeing the strings of orange cones, flaggers and unexpected detours. While the need for repairs is clear, many states and cities are left searching for new methods of funding road maintenance.
According to a recent survey, nearly two-thirds of Americans would support roadway user fees to help fix the country's crumbling transportation infrastructure. The gasoline taxes that historically paid for maintenance are waning because of more efficient vehicles, changing driving habits and state and federal gasoline tax rates that have not kept pace with inflation and have left funding mechanisms short on cash. So, how do states and cities come up with the money? Last year Oregon launched a voluntary program to have drivers pay based on the number of miles a vehicle travels. California will soon implement a similar program.
According to a new report, we should prepare for more "localized" taxes and fees. The report - Paying for Local Infrastructure in a New Era of Federalism - shows that cities are increasingly responsible for much of the nation's infrastructure, but states have limited the ability for localities to raise revenues. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx noted that funding transportation needs is now an effort that must be shared by federal, state, and local governments. The Portland City Council recently passed a truck-only tax that places a 2.8% surcharge on the annual weight-mile tax trucks pay to the state. Portland voters also recently approved an additional gas tax of 10 cents/gallon that will be in place for the next four years.
While these new funding mechanisms will raise over $75 million over the next four years, the city reported that with the street maintenance backlog it would cost $118.7 million for 10 years, or nearly $1.2 billion. Paying for street maintenance is like paying the light bill however, we need safe and well maintained streets to commute, access leisure activities and deliver goods and services.
Commercial Vehicle Travel Study Starts Soon
Synergy Resources Group is working with DKS & Associates and RSG on a comprehensive commercial vehicle travel study which will gather trip data from 800 vehicles as they make deliveries or service calls in the Portland-metro area. The information will be used to help determine current and future infrastructure needs and inform funding decisions. The pilot has been completed and the recruitment phase begins this month.
Need to Make a Presentation? Have Stage Fright?
Public speaking consistently ranks as one of Americans' most common fears, a terror shared by people of all ages and educational levels. Being able to give a speech clearly and persuasively empowers us to succeed in our personal lives and in the workplace - it's a crucial and often-overlooked skill for all of us who hope to be promoted, take on additional responsibility, or gain opportunities for future success.
Elaine Cogan's newest book, How to Talk to (Almost) Anyone about (Almost) Anything, includes updated information and new insights that Elaine has gained after many years as a consultant and trainer in oral communications.
"If you're professional who is tasked with making persuasive public presentations, then this book is a must have," offered Debra Dunn, "With concise instructions and clear guidance, it showcases the breadth of Elaine's knowledge and experience that she has gained since starting her consulting firm in the 1970s."
Seven Ideas for Marketing to Existing Customers
When small business owners think about marketing, they usually think about attracting new customers. But existing customers are equally, if not more, important. A survey last year found that marketers spend on average just 21 percent of their marketing budgets on existing customers-even though these customers account for the majority of their revenues.
How can you reach out to your existing customers and convince them to buy more from you? Here are seven ideas to try.
Gather data on your customers.
Make them feel special.
Follow up after the sale.
Get existing customers involved in developing new products and services.
Start a loyalty program for existing customers.
Celebrate special days.
Setting Expectations with Employees: Performance Improvement Techniques
The single most common missing ingredient in employee interactions is that of setting expectations. It's one of the many performance improvement techniques that many of us fail to focus on.
Why is it that employees don't do what they're supposed to do? Surprisingly, most often it is because they don't know what's expected. One of the biggest problems with supervisors' communication is that they assume they've communicated clearly when they haven't.
Getting the performance you want is fundamentally dependent on:
Clear, specific, and unambiguous communication about what you expect, and
Getting a definite commitment from the employee to do what's expected
Another challenge for supervisors is communicating not only what is expected, but how it is to be done. Finally, most supervisors leave out an important piece of information: why all that matters - to customers, to the Company, to the team.
Ensuring that supervisors have the skills and tools to meet these challenges helps you achieve important benefits:
Employees who need less supervision because they understand and are committed to not only achieving important goals but exceeding them
Greater alignment throughout the organization
Fewer performance problems
Increased employee engagement
Increased productivity because employees are internally motivated
Synergy Resources Group can help you develop the best method to engage employees and ensure that expectations are clear and attainable.
One Oregon, A Vision for Oregon's Transportation System
In May Oregon Governor Kate Brown received the final report from her Governor's Transportation Vision Panel. Entitled One Oregon, A Vision for Oregon's Transportation System, the report culminates a yearlong public effort to develop a series of recommendations addressing transportation issues across all modes and all regions of the state. The report outlines challenges and opportunities that the state's transportation system faces today, delivers a series of long-term goals, identifies key action priorities, and details considerations for financing our transportation system. While regions of the state have their own distinct characteristics and priorities, the Panel found common threads shared across all of Oregon. Three key priorities affecting Oregon's transportation system were heard by the panel consistently across the state:
Seismic preparedness. The impact of a Cascadia Subduction Zone event, and the vulnerabilities of our transportation system, is a major concern for communities across Oregon.
Portland metro area congestion is having a major impact on the economic vitality of all regions of Oregon.
Improved transit is a top priority for communities across the state, both to get people around locally and to connect communities across the region.
"While some of these conclusions seem obvious, especially to those active in the transportation industry," commented Synergy Resources Group President Debra Dunn, "It was especially impactful that a well-rounded panel of business owners, civic leaders and legislators had the opportunity to evaluate the region's transportation system and identify common areas to focus on."
Featured Nonprofit: Villages NW
The goal of Villages NW is to enable more Pacific NW residents to successfully age in place by developing and nurturing a network of sustainable, community-based Villages throughout the region. According to a recent survey by AARP, 89% of older adults want to age in their own homes and neighborhoods. There were over 190,000 people aged 65 and older living in the Portland metro area as of the 2010 census. By 2030, that number is expected to grow to almost 395,000. Villages NW provides the necessary structure to develop age-in-place villages that provide the services and support people need to be able to age in place, but can no longer safely do themselves. Villages embrace the strategy of bringing services to people rather than moving people to services.