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June 19, 2007

This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.

I know, I know. This little program always features businesses from throughout the state of Idaho. However, this week I want to tell you about some interesting businesses in Ontario, Oregon, "Why Oregon?" you ask. Well, because it is just a matter of steps from Ontario into Idaho.

Ontario is about halfway between Portland and Salt Lake City. It is the closest city to the Idaho border along Interstate 84. The city's slogan is "where Oregon begins." And, I guess you could say, "where Idaho ends."

There is a great deal of traffic and trade between Oregonians and Idahoans, so it seems appropriate that we feature these good Oregon companies that serve Idaho residents.

Ontario is the largest city in Malheur County. It lies along the Snake River at the Idaho border. The 2000 census showed a population of 11,000 people but it seems bigger than that to me.

Ontario has a growing retail-based economy which attracts shoppers from throughout the county and, perhaps more significantly, from Idaho's Payette County, particularly near Payette and Fruitland. Big box retailers Wal-Mart and Home Depot dominate, but the lack of a state sales tax attracts shopper from Idaho communities.

As an old, retired metro chamber of commerce manager, I just had to pop in and say "hi" to the local manager, executive director John Breidenback. The dynamic chamber represents 341 businesses, organizations and professionals. John told me the economy of the area is healthy and there is vigorous growth and a strong feeling of enthusiasm with local business leaders. He also stressed that the mission of the chamber is to "market and strengthen our businesses while enhancing quality of life in the community."

I agree. I enjoyed my visit with several of them and for the next few programs, I'll talk about some of the businesses in Ontario.

For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.


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