Technology giants like Intel, Tektronix and IBM have fostered hundreds of spin-off companies that produce semiconductors and software. Altogether the high-tech firms spend billions of dollars every year on research and development in the local area.
Nike’s world headquarters is located in Beaverton. A number of other sports and apparel firms have followed Nike’s shoe steps. Columbia Sportswear, one of the world’s largest outdoor apparel companies, has relocated here.
Source: Oregon Employment Department, May 2002
Source: City of Beaverton “Economic Development Strategic Plan” July 2000
Source: “Largest Employers of the Portland/Vancouver Metropolitan Area” published by Portland Chamber, 2001.
Oregon’s technology industry added more than 22,000 jobs to the Portland metro area’s economy between 1993 and 1998, helping to make Oregon the second-fastest-growing state economy in the country during the period. The “Silicon Forest” attracted companies with its skilled work force, strong infrastructure, access to West Coast and Asian markets, and high quality of life. Oregon’s high-tech industry accounts for 13 percent of the state’s economy and 60 percent of Oregon’s international exports. Semiconductors, software and computer services are the largest industry segments.
Since 2000, the downturn in the high-technology industry has affected Oregon disproportionately hard. The state’s technology sector was down 5,600 jobs from March 2001 to March 2002, for a total of 52,800 jobs. Of those, 52 percent are concentrated in Washington County. The industry is expected to improve during late 2002 and early 2003. The economic research firm Economy.com predicts that semiconductors will be one of the first high-tech areas to improve, singling out Portland as an early recovery area.
High-tech employment also reaches into the culture of the community: Portland ranks third in the United States in computers at home (69 percent) and fourth in home Internet access (58 percent), making it one of the most “wired” regions in the country, according to a 2001 Nielsen/NetRatings survey.
One of the largest sectors of the economy, manufacturing, accounts for approximately 15 percent of the Portland metro area’s employment. Well over one-half of Washington County’s manufacturing jobs are in “high tech” categories, raising the annual pay per worker to $76,179. Oregon’s manufacturing sector lost jobs across the state during the national economic slowdown. Improvement is expected in 2003, although lumber and wood products are predicted to continue a slow decline.
The high-tech sector’s growth highly depends on international trade. More than 2,600 Oregon companies exported $5.1 billion in goods in 1999. Wood products now run a distant second to high-tech exports. Overall, Oregon’s export trade is strong despite economic declines in other areas. Exports from the state topped $12 billion in 2000. Oregon’s exports have doubled in value since 1993 with nearly all that growth due to increased exports to Asia. Forecasts predict that Oregon’s economy will become increasingly dependent on international trade.
Tourism adds an estimated $313 million to Washington County, primarily from visitors staying in hotels and other accommodations. Oregon’s tourism industry experienced strong growth in the past decade,with visitor spending increasing six percent per year in the 1990’s. The trend changed in 2001, when the terrorist attacks of September 11 combined with a slowing economy to create turmoil in the nation’s travel industry. Decreases in Oregon, which tends to be a regional drive destination, were less acute than for fly destinations.
Total travel spending for 2001 in Oregon was $6.1 billion. Travel-related employment decreased 1.2 percent to 94,100 jobs in 2001, and lodging occupancies decreased 4 to 6 percent at the end of 2001, compared to the same period in the previous year. Almost 13 million travelers flew in or out of Portland International Airport in 2001, a million fewer than in 2000. For more information on visiting Oregon, contact the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Washington County, Oregon at 503-644-5555, 1-800-537-3149 or www.wcva.org
Boasting one of the world’s most diverse geo-climatic regions, Oregon is ideally suited to growing wine grapes and ranks fourth in the US in wine production. In 2001, wine and grape production was valued at $34 million, up from 26 million in 2000. Oregon is famous for pinot noir wines, but equal quality can be found in varietals of riesling, chardonnay, gewurztraminer, cabernet sauvignon, pinot gris and muller-thurgau. Washington County is home to more than a dozen wineries, with two located right in Beaverton. More information about Oregon wineries can be found at www.oregonwine.org.