Portland-Vancouver area poised for growth

Portland region ahead of the curve in attracting talent



photoAlisa Pyszka
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Success in the current economy requires a strong talent base and culture of innovation in all industries ranging from software development to advanced manufacturing.

Businesses rely on the ability to source talent that is highly productive and cost-competitive. This demand for talent is an issue not unique to the Portland-Vancouver region — it is a global issue and a concern for regions everywhere.

To compete in today’s global economy, regions must be able to attract and retain talent in addition to growing the skill base fostered by the local higher-education system.

The Portland region is ahead of the curve in talent attraction, welcoming more than 95,000 new residents a year, one of the highest per-capita rates in the nation.

Even more impressive is that more than 20 percent of these new residents come to the Portland area with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

This in-migration trend is not new to our region. Of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas, only Portland and Seattle consistently ranked in the top 15 from 1980 through 2010 for attracting and retaining young, college-educated migrants. This means that even throughout “boom and bust” cycles, ours is one of the few metro areas that consistently attracts desired talent.

This growing competitive talent base directly benefits our economy. While the show “Portlandia” jokes that this region is a place where young people go to retire, research shows something entirely different. The Portland area has one of the highest productivity levels in the nation.

Current regional gross domestic product is more than $147 billion, with substantial growth of nearly 19 percent over the past five years. Even more compelling is the regional GDP per capita, which has seen double-digit growth.

The workforce trends presented in the data help explain why thriving and innovative companies stay and grow in the Portland region. Raghu Raghavan, CEO of Act-On Software in Beaverton, Ore., addressed why to choose the Portland area when he said, “There was a point in time when potential backers wanted Act-On Software to relocate to Silicon Valley. … In many ways it is better that we are here. The people in this region are much more rational. So is the cost. It is the stability of the workforce. It is the attitude.”

With compelling assets and trends such as these, our region is poised for growth. This fact is echoed by the recent Emerging Real Estate Trends 2014 report by the Urban Land Institute that indicates the Portland area is one of only 11 regions in the nation that are “market(s) with investment prospects that are good or better.”

At Greater Portland Inc. we are committed to working with our local partners to consistently champion these assets and trends to attract additional talent and businesses to the region.

Alisa Pyszka, formerly Vancouver’s Economic Development Division Manager, is vice president of recruitment and expansion at Greater Portland Inc (GPI), a regional economic development partnership in the Portland-Vancouver area, which includes seven counties and covers two states.