As the Recovery Grows, Portland is Positioned to Benefit
Oregon employment tops pre-recession highs, posts biggest one-month jump in decades
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 17, 2014 – A report released this week from the Oregon Employment Department offers some great news on the job front:
More Oregonians are employed now than were at the beginning of the recession. And November produced the biggest one-month jump in employment since the state started keeping comparable records in 1990.
"We've been watching this trend for months now. Jobs throughout Oregon are on the rise and Portland is leading the way," Mayor Charlie Hales said.
Multiple sectors saw significant increases of 1,000 or more jobs in November, including retail, business services, hospitality, construction, wholesale trade and government.
"It is rare for so many industries to gain that many jobs in one month," the Employment Department said in a statement released Tuesday morning.
Mayor to Washington Post: 'There are some really deep cultural roots to the character of Portland'
MONDAY, OCT. 20, 2014 -- The Washington Post column "Wonkblog" on Monday focused on Portland's success as a destination city -- one people move to because it's great, then find a job and make a life here.
Reporter Emily Badger interviewed Mayor Charlie Hales about Portland, and followed up with economist Joe Cortright on the facts of Portland's success:
- Portland has contained urban sprawl with urban growth boundaries.
- Unemployment rate for 25-to-34-year-olds with a college degree in metro Portland is 4.8 percent -- lower than it is in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta or New York City.
- Its long-held values -- sharing economy, local food sources, entrepreneurship -- are now trendy.
Hales, whose interview with Badger prompted the piece, praised it as a fun, insightful look at Portland.
Mayor Marks National Manufacturing Day at Benson High
FRIDAY, OCT. 3, 2014 -- Today is National Manufacturing Day, when “more than 1,600 American manufacturers will open their doors and take up the important work of inspiring our young people to pursue careers in manufacturing and engineering,” reads President Barack Obama’s proclamation.
"National Manufacturing Day carries a special meaning in Portland, a city of makers," Mayor Charlie Hales said. "We brew beer. We make outdoor and athletic gear. We build everything from airplane parts to really tall bikes."
Standing before a group of about 50 students at Benson Polytechnic High School, Hales talked about his grandfather, who spent his career as an engraver at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, hand-engraving plates to print money. He couldn’t smoke or drink because he had to have the steadiest of hands. When he retired, his trick was tracing the outline of a dime and writing the entire Lord’s Prayer inside of it.
“I come from a family of makers,” Hales told the high school students. “That’s part of why I love Portland.”
The students today will visit several manufacturing companies to learn what they make and how they make it. In his proclamation, President Obama said such tours are an important part of a future of American manufacturing: “Today’s science, technology, engineering, and math graduates will power the next chapter of American production and innovation, and harnessing their potential is an economic imperative. When our manufacturing base is strong, our entire economy is strong. Today, we continue our work to bolster the industry at the heart of our Nation. With grit and resolve, we can create new jobs and widen the circle of opportunity for more Americans.”
Alaska Airlines Magazine Profiles Portland as City of Makers
THURSDAY, OCT. 2, 2014-- Alaska Airlines Magazine dedicated part of its October edition to delving into Portland's maker economy.
The magazine talked to 16 pages-worth of businesses and Portlanders, including First Lady Nancy Hales, painting a picture of a city that supports innovation and ideas. The profile starts on page 142 of this online magazine (click here).
"This is a stellar feature," Mayor Charlie Hales said. "It's a nice reminder of how fantastic our city really is."
PDC Names Winners of 2014 Startup PDX Challenge
THURSDAY, SEPT. 4, 2014 -- Six startup businesses have made the cut to win the second annual Startup PDX Challenge. This year’s Challenge focused on finding entrepreneurs with diverse founding teams and the ambition to scale to a national or international market. Each company will receive a package valued at $50,000, with a $15,000 working capital grant, a full year of rent-free office space at 115 SW Ash in Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown, and free professional advice, memberships and services.
In addition to the six winners, five companies have been named merit finalists and will each receive a package valued at $4,000.
The Challenge drew a field of 134 applicants, narrowed first to 19 semi-finalists and then to the six winners and five merit finalists by a selection committee which interviewed the representatives of each semi-finalist company. The winners represent both industry and demographic diversity. The full group encompasses developers of new consumer products, technology and services, and includes eight startups with women founders; five with African American founders; three with Asian founders; two with Native American founders; and one with Latino founders.
Patrick Quinton, PDC Executive Director, said, “We were thrilled with the response to this year’s call for diverse founding teams that will help us develop a more inclusive innovation community. We look forward to welcoming the winning entrepreneurs to our expanding network of experienced, innovative companies competing in the global economy.”
The six winners, all from the Portland metropolitan area, are Yellow Scope, a creator of rigorous science kits just for girls; RAFT Syrups, which brews organic botanical and cane sugar syrup for cocktails and home soda making; Society Nine, a fight gear and activewear apparel brand for women; NoAppFee.com, a technology solution to rental market problems for landlords and tenants; Design + Culture Lab, a research-based urban social lab addressing issues of cultural, racial and ethnic inequality; and Tique Box, a subscription service for specialty items from local artisans.
The Challenge winners will move into the Old Town/Chinatown space in early October; a meet and greet event on Thursday, September 25 will welcome them to the neighborhood.
Tech Firms in Race to Get to Portland
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 3, 2014 -- According to the Portland Business journal’s Malia Spencer and Alli Pyrah, Portland’s popularity as a tech hub is squeezing an already tight office market.
See their story online at http://www.bizjournals.com/portland
The journalists talked to incoming Portland business leaders, including representatives of SurveyMonkey, Squarepsace and Airbnb. Gino Zahnd, CEO of Cozy, commented on moving his employees to the Rose City, saying, “We give everyone the choice of San Francisco or Portland, and 100 percent choose Portland.”
Chris Harder of the Portland Development Commission also is quoted saying that the PDC – the city’s development arm – is holding conversations every month with tech companies coming from the Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Seattle, New York or Boston. “Right now, it’s just a flood,” Harder said.
Pipeline Company to Build Terminal at Port of Portland, a $500 Million Investment
Pembina Pipeline Corporation, a Calgary, Canada-based company, announced today that it has chosen the Port of Portland for a West Coast propane export terminal project—a half a billion dollar investment.
“This is great news," said Mayor Charlie Hales. "We welcome this investment and these jobs in Portland. The city is committed to growing our economy on the land we already have, and holding industry to very high environmental and public safety standards. This proposal meets these goals."
Under the agreement with the Port, Pembina will undertake extensive environmental and regulatory reviews and assessments and, with the Port, begin to obtain all the required permits and approvals to develop the terminal.
"Signing the Terminal Agreement is a tremendous milestone for the Project," said Mick Dilger, Pembina's President and Chief Executive Officer. "It marks the beginning of consulting and engaging with stakeholders, governments and the environmental and regulatory authorities. Building trust with the communities where we operate is a top priority for Pembina, and over the last 60 years, we have developed a reputation for honesty, transparency and treating our stakeholders with respect."
Pembina plans to develop a 37,000 barrel per day propane export facility with an anticipated in-service date of early 2018.
It is estimated that the project will generate between 600-800 temporary construction jobs and approximately 35 to 40 new, permanent positions to operate the terminal. This employment is valued at approximately $7.2 million in wages and benefits annually. Additionally, an estimated $3.3 million in annual tax revenues would go to the City of Portland, as well as $2.4 million to Multnomah County and $3.1 million to Portland Public Schools annually.
The company expects the West Coast Terminal to provide growing Canadian propane supply—derived from natural gas produced in Western Canada—with access to large, international markets while complementing the company’s expanding integrated service offering for products that are derived from natural gas.
Company That Makes iPad Sales System to Expand in Portland
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 27, 2014 – New York City-based ShopKeep, which makes an iPad-based point-of-sale system for small merchants, is the latest tech company to set up shop in Portland. The Portland Business Journal’s Malia Spencer says the company is moving into a downtown office at 421 S.W. Sixth Ave.
While the current staff includes an estimated 15 is working out of temporary offices in the Liberty Centre in the Lloyd District, the new permanent space can accommodate up to 100 people, said co-CEO Norm Merritt.
‘Jobs’ Are Focus of PDC Projects
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 27, 2014 – The focus is on jobs this week, as the Portland City Council hears a report on programs designed to lure, keep and expand employment within the city.
The council discussed funds of than $5.42 million in the budget of the Portland Development Commission – the city’s economic development arm. The money goes toward programs pegged to job creation and job retention.
“Nationally and internationally, the economic recovery has arrived. But not everyone in Portland is feeling it yet,” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “We talk a lot about ‘placemaking’ and, for many Portlanders, that means access to jobs. These proposals are designed to focus directly on Portlanders and jobs.”
Hales oversees the PDC as one of his bureaus within city government.
Among those testifying Wednesday was Michael DeMarco, program manager for Our 42nd Avenue Neighborhood Prosperity Initaitive organization. DeMarco said the organization's goals include local hiring and internships.
The City Council voted 4-0 to support the programs. Which include:
Neighborhood Economic Development: $3.38 million
This program includes:
A cluster of Neighborhood Commercial Corridors would receive a total of $863,000. This consists of five programs:
Main Street Network is a community-led revitalization program designed to stimulate neighborhood businesses. In June 2010, Portland designated Alberta, Hillsdale and St. Johns as its first three Main Street districts. The districts receive grants for district administration, property and sustainability improvements, and promotional events.
Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative focuses on six economically challenged business areas in East and outer Northeast Portland. In addition to ongoing technical assistance and training, the districts will be eligible for a district administration and operations grant, marketing, promotions and branding grants, and a property improvement grant.
For Venture Portland, an estimated $303,000 will go to support training, technical assistance, and small grants to Portland's neighborhood business district associations.
The proposal also calls for an estimated $994,000 in Small Business Support, which includes technical assistance for citywide small businesses, allowing the city to support delivery of services by qualified non-profit providers. The funds will be focused on stabilizing and growing small businesses with modest incomes; businesses located in economically challenged areas; and businesses whose owners may need services provided in languages other than English.
Finally, the proposal calls for more than $1.22 million for Neighborhood Economic Development, which is designed to assist low-income Portlanders through workforce development. All participants must have incomes of 50 percent or lower of the Portland-area median family income, and many recipients face barriers such as limited English, criminal histories, lack of housing, drug and alcohol addiction, and lack of education credentials.
Traded-Sector Job Creation and Retention: $2.04 million
This includes Cluster Developments worth an estimated $1.44 million to raise the city’s national and international profile in four target industries: clean technology; athletic and outdoor; advance manufacturing; and software. The goal is to help companies within those sectors retain and expand workforce, as well as strategic recruitment of firms into Portland and the region.
The proposal includes $444,000 for Entrepreneurship Support, a key program within the city to create high-paying jobs, support high-growth firms, commercialize local technologies and encourage broad economic development. This includes access to early stage capital, mentoring and produce development for local entrepreneurs and startups. The program also supports initiatives designed to align resources for women and minority entrepreneurs.
Update: Vigor Industrial's Dry Dock Arrives in Portland
TUESDAY, AUG. 26 2014 – a massive, floating dry dock dubbed The Vigorous arrives in Portland aboard the Dutch MV Blue Marlin, often referred to as the world’s largest heavy-lift marine vessel. The dry dock will allow Vigor Industrial, on Swan Island, to repair much larger marine craft. The Oregonian’s Mark Graves, Mike Francis and Mike Zacchino offer this photo essay.
“Portlanders sometimes forget that there is a strong industrial sector in our economy,” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “This very-visible expansion, right here on Swan Island, is a good reminder that skills like welding and machining play key roles in the lives of working Portlanders.”
Vigor Industrial Adds Massive Dry Dock; Addition Will Create Jobs
FRIDAY, AUG. 22, 2014 – A massive floating dry dock will arrive at the Columbia River this weekend, carrying components that will be assembled and put to work on Swan Island this fall by Vigor Industrial. The company says it will be the largest such dry dock in the country.
Oregonian reporter Mike Francis offers this article on the new facility, which will draw very large ships into the Willamette River for repair. The ships will be visible from much of Portland and from many of the city’s bridges.
Foti said the dry dock’s arrival means 130 people will work for several months on the two vessels in the queue at Swan Island, and those people "would not have worked" at Vigor if not for the dry dock, according to The Oregonian.
Frank Foti, Vigor president and chief executive officer, met with Mayor Charlie Hales and staff from the Mayor's Office and Portland Development Commission, earlier this summer, to outline the company’s plans to expand and to draw even larger ships to Swan Island for repairs.
“Portlanders sometimes forget that there is a strong industrial sector in our economy,” Hales said. “This very-visible expansion, right here on Swan Island, is a good reminder that skills like welding and machining play key roles in the lives of working Portlanders.”
The $40 million dry dock is called The Vigorous and was constructed in China.
Startup PDX Challenge semi-finalists named; public vote begins
The Portland Development Commission has narrowed a field of 134 Startup PDX Challenge applicants from the United States and Canada to 19 semi-finalists in Portland’s search for startups with diverse founding teams and the ambition to scale to a national or international market.
Up to six for-profit startup businesses will receive a package valued at $50,000 per company with a $15,000 working capital grant, a full year of rent-free office space at 115 SW Ash in Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown, and free professional advice, memberships and services. Up to four more startups will be named merit finalists and will receive a package valued at $4,000 per company.
Daimler Breaks Ground on Portland Headquarters Building
FRIDAY, JULY 18, 2014 – Mayor Charlie Hales and Gov. John Kitzhaber were on hand Friday for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the $150 million Daimler Trucks North America headquarters on Swan Island.
Martin Daum, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, spoke about the choice of Portland for the expanded facility.
“Daimler is a good corporate neighbour,” Hales said. “They get the spirit of Portland. I’ve heard Martin Daum talk about it before, and he’s right. Daimler and Portland are a perfect fit.”
In 2012, Daimler and Western Star Trucks purchased $135 million from Oregon vendors and suppliers. Daimler also supports area high schools, the Oregon Food Bank, the United Way and the Washington Park Summer Concert Series.
A 265,000 square-foot building will bring together Daimler operations now scattered across several offices and will allow for growth. Daimler plans to add another 400 employees to its Portland work force.
The project also includes opening a greenway trail along the Willamette River and construction of a parking garage. The company has partnered with Ankrom Moisan for the architectural design and Hoffman Corporation for construction.
Mayor Hales Supports Shriver Report’s ‘City-Festo’ for Women’s, Other Groups’ Empowerment
FRIDAY, JULY 18, 2014 — At Happy Cup Coffee Company in City Hall one afternoon, barista Caitlin Lawson coached Keyona, 28, through the register, checking out an iced coffee order.
Happy Cup — with its coffee roasting operation and two café locations — is a program through Full Life, an organization that employs developmentally disabled adults like Keyona who want to work for minimum wage or better with benefits, job counseling, and other services. Full Life was founded 12 years ago by a woman who championed opportunities for disabled adults.
“It’s fun,” says Keyona, who has worked with Full Life for seven years. “I get to work with different people. It gives me a different outlook and perspective on life.”
The city has supported Happy Cup’s mission, helping it into the City Hall location and into a Northeast Portland space near the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct.
Such support is why Maria Shriver, founder of Shriver Report, praised Mayor Charlie Hales at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in June for Portland’s progressive and innovative efforts to create an equitable city. Shriver Report is a nonprofit online platform through which women and others may share stories of progress in overcoming inequity. At the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Shriver’s organization distributed a “city-festo,” a guide to implementing policies that support families and work to empower both women and men to be successful in their cities.
In addition to existing policies and advocacy at the city, state and federal level, Hales is supporting Shriver Report’s call for city leaders to be “architects of change,” encouraging policies that support women and families through education, involvement and outreach.
“Happy Cup embodies Portland’s progressive values,” says Hales, who visits the City Hall café for coffee and salads. “We’re a city that cares for its people, and we put our progressive values into practice.”
The mayor has thrown his support behind the “city-festo” as another step in overcoming historical inequities to make the city more livable for everyone.
“Portland is a deliberately family-friendly city,” Hales says. “We’re continuing to work to make sure every resident lives in a complete neighborhood, with parks full of amenities, streets and sidewalks in good repair, and equal opportunities for successful futures.”
The “city-festo” calls for an informed community, 100 percent voter registration, and education, encouraging city officials to teach equity through leadership, policies and practices.
Hales, through diversity workshops such as White Men as Full Diversity Partners and outreach initiatives such as Black Male Achievement, has led Portland through many of the report’s 10 steps to build change.
Likewise, the city has made progress through Commissioner Amanda Fritz’s citywide paid sick leave policy; sick leave was the No. 1 policy that women who were surveyed said they needed from their city. Shriver told Hales that Portland’s policy is an exemplar for cities nationwide.
Through Black Male Achievement, Hales led community leaders in collaboratively developing programs to support young, African-American men, who disproportionately experience high incarceration, dropout and unemployment rates. SummerWorks, whose second-largest funder is the city, finds summer internships for at-risk teenagers, helping them stay on the right track. City Hall this year hired 100 interns.
Hales, through the U.S. Conference of Mayors, has advocated for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. At the state level, the city has advocated for statewide sick leave, affordable housing non-discrimination legislation, tuition equity, and for funding pilot programs to build of Portland Community College’s successful Future Connect scholarship program, which seeks to eliminate financial barriers to college. Last year the City Council passed two affordable housing policies that were key to preserving affordable housing units in Portland. One continued a tax abatement program to create an incentive for developers to build affordable housing, and another clarified that affordable housing on city property is tax-exempt.
And the city supports businesses like Happy Cup.
“Happy Cup establishes challenges that not every service job gives you,” says Lawson, the barista. “The relationships we build with Full Life clients make the job so much more fulfilling.”
ShriverReport’s “city-festo” gives the city more equity goals to pursue — 100 percent voter registration, addressing inequities across the city, empowering oftentimes marginalized populations.
“The ‘city-festo’ is a great list of goals that Portland is capable of achieving,” Hales says. “We’ve made tremendous progress over the last year-and-a-half. Now it’s time to focus our energies on making this city truly equitable for all genders, all races, all sexual orientations — all citizens.”
Mayor Hales, Sen. Wyden, Commissioner Smith Kick Off SummerWorks' Sixth Year
TUESDAY, JULY 1, 2014 — City, county and federal partners today at the Portland Building kicked off the SummerWorks program’s sixth year placing young people in summer jobs.
Mayor Charlie Hales, Sen. Ron Wyden, and Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith praised the program for helping teens and young adults gain the work experience that is critical to their long-term success.
SummerWorks, a program through Worksystems Inc., since 2009 has placed 2,617 young people, ages 16 to 21, in summer jobs. The program emphasizes under-represented youth who face challenges such as growing up in poverty or at risk of dropping out of high school.
“We’ve been able to grow this program at Multnomah County since 2011 from 25 young men and women to 125 this year,” says Smith, who will accept an award July 13 on the program’s behalf at the National Association of Counties’ annual convention. “This program works because it connects young people with quality jobs at good pay and provides the skills they need to make their lives better now and in the future.”
The program formed in response to a persistent youth unemployment problem in Oregon; 36,000 young people are both out of school and out or work in the Portland metro area. Last year only about 25 percent of people 16 to 19 years old had a job. For young African-American men, that figure was only 12 percent.
Hales has prioritized working with public and private partners to build a more robust internship system to connect Portland students to the local workforce, and is particularly focused on ameliorating disparities in education, work and family outcomes for African-American men.
“There are several ways we as a community have failed the African American youth — education, employment, incarceration rates,” Hales says. “These internships help level the playing field in a key performance measure, employment. This program provides a leg up. It’s a small step, but a good one.”
Nearly 60 percent of SummerWorks’ funding comes from the city of Portland, Multnomah County, and Worksystems Inc., which is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Labor. Last year, Worksystems contributed $222,169 to the program; the city of Portland $188,071; and Multnomah County $173,475.
“The SummerWorks program is an indispensable tool in training the next generation of productive workers, in breaking the cycle of poverty, and in teaching young people the value of work and the self-esteem that comes with it,” Sen. Wyden says. “This program is the gold standard for demonstrating to the rest of the country that local governments and the federal government can come together with local nonprofits and private enterprise to find good jobs for young people who want to work and want to contribute to their community.”
Urban League Career Fair Slated
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16, 2014 – The Urban League of Portland's annual career fair is scheduled for next week.
The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, at the Double Tree Hotel, 1000 N.E. Multnomah St., near the Lloyd Center.
This fair gives jobseekers the opportunity to meet face to face with recruiters from more than 50 employers, including representatives from corporate, professional, clerical, construction and health care industries, as well as the non-profit and government sectors.
Family behind Orox Leather artisan goods used PDC assistance to open 1st store, workshop in Old Town
After many years making sandals out of a garage and selling at Saturday Market, Orox Leather Co. moved into Old Town in December 2012, and celebrated its first bricks-and-mortar store with a grand opening party on August 1, 2013.