Economic Development in Portland

Why doesn't the Portland area have more than one Fortune 500 headquarters?

Over at bojack.org, Jack Bogdanski is critical of current city efforts - and has suggested at least one alternative idea:

[Instead] of blowing tens of millions on a Convention Center hotel, the City of Portland ought to build a huge corporate headquarters building somewhere within the city limits -- maybe over in North or Northeast Portland -- and offer any Fortune 500 company free office space for a couple of years if they'll just move a substantial number of executive jobs here. Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

Be sure to also check out the post earlier today by Larry Wallack about the futility of corporate tax breaks to lure companies.

What will it take to lure a Fortune 500 company here? Or, more broadly, to cultivate and nurture an economic climate that creates living wage jobs? Other ideas?

Comments

  • Rodney (unverified)
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    • Get U of O or OSU into the top tier of public school rankings - we need more talent going to school in state and working here

    • Improve the local public school systems so that high level corporate decision makers feel comfortable moving their business here

  • Adventuregeek (unverified)
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    Maybe, quit worrying about why there's no Fortune 500 companies and help local small businesses become the next Fortune 500 company. There's really no reason to get involved in the corporate race to the bottom, they will only bolt town when a better deal comes along. Small businesses provide great jobs, value the local community and largely avoid the huge CEO/worker pay disparities that poison the Fortune 500.

  • djk (unverified)
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    Who cares if local companies make the top 500 list? Companies in the 501-2500 position will provide jobs, pay taxes, and contribute to local schools, charities and cultural institutions. I'd rather have twenty healthy, stable mid-sized business with five hundred employees each than one big company that employs ten thousand and continually threatens to leave town if the City doesn't cave in to its latest demand for special treatment.

    My greater concern is that big local companies keep falling prey to big money from elsewhere. Kroegers took over Fred Meyer. Meir & Frank was sold to May (and now Macy's owns it). Pacificorp merged with Scottish Power. Weyerhauser ate Willamette Industries. When I was in high school, my dad lost his job at Portland-based Evans Products when the company was wiped out and its assets sold by a corporate raider from Florida.

    I don't know if there's a damn thing local government can do to keep home-grown companies local, but I'm pretty sure the Portland City Council's alleged hostility to business doesn't have a damn thing to do with Blockbuster deciding to buy out Hollywood Video.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    A serious question is why the "per capita income" for Oregon has steadily gone down from 25th ranking in 1990 to 36th in 2004. This is a significant erosion that is not easily turned around. What factors caused this slide and what needs to change to reverse the direction?

  • steve s (unverified)
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    The often ill-legitimate spending under the label of economic development has many downsides.

    Portland's abuse of Tax Increment Financing is harming education funding. According to the National Education Association http://www.nea.org/presscenter/images/protectingpubliceducationfullreport.pdf

  • John Schmitt (unverified)
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    I agree with both Rodney and AdventureGeek: make Oregon schools (K-12) the envy of the nation (to attract young, talented workers) and foster a climate that helps create the next Nike, Intel, etc.

    I have a small business and it's amazing how difficult the state and local governments (yes, you Multnomah county!) make doing business with them. Two years ago we lost a project to an out-of-state company that actually proposed an inferior solution. My employee's tax dollars were sent out-of-state to generate more jobs there.

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    There is precious little Oregon can do to lure corporate headquarters - read the study done for Associated Oregon Industries.

  • jim karlock (unverified)
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    Chuck Sheketoff | July 18, 2005 11:10 PM There is precious little Oregon can do to lure corporate headquarters - read the study done for Associated Oregon Industries.

    JK: Haven’t looked at that yet, but there are things that can be done:

    ONE don’t drive corporations out like Katz & Clowns did to Columbia Sportswear.

    TWO listen to Addis. WillyWeek (or was it Brainstorm) reported that had they known what they were in for (from city planners) they would NOT have move their HQ here.

    Those are BIG TIME obvious.

    We could also reduce wasted $$$ due to traffic congestion. Traffic congestion was cited by Boeing as one reason for moving a part of their operations out of Seattle.

    As mentioned previously, schools are very important. What CEO wants his kids to go to second rate schools? ( I argue that we are giving away school money to tax freeloading millionaires in the form of abatements. See www.saveportland.com

    Here is how I view it: It is a cost equation. The more costs the city imposes on a company due to petty BS, the more incentives the city has to give to attract, or keep, a company.

    I just wonder what we could attract if the city said: We don’t care what color you paint your building We don’t care how many trees you plant. We don’t care how many parking spaces you provide for your customers and employees. We don’t care how big your parking spaces are. We don’t expect you force your employees to give up their cars, or you pay a fine.

    Other things count too. Like good schools. We lost those. Low crime. We can’t lock up car thieves. Affordable housing. We lost that. I think that we lost all of these things through bad decision by government, starting with Neil, baby bopper, Goldschmidt through Katz & Klowns.

    Thanks JK

  • j (unverified)
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    Chuck Sheketoff | July 18, 2005 11:10 PM There is precious little Oregon can do to lure corporate headquarters - read the study done for Associated Oregon Industries.

    JK: I did a quick read through to your referenced document. It appears that you missed quite a few things:

    Sheketoff’s referenced document: • Markets tend to reward firms for relocating headquarters from central city locations to lower-cost suburban locations.

    JK: So, shouldn’t Portland try to lower costs?

    Sheketoff’s referenced document: 2. Corporate taxes matter. It’s not the rate that counts, but primarily the treatment of capital gains and tax-code provisions governing the apportionment of corporate income.

    JK: So shouldn’t Oregon work on these parts of its tax code?

    Sheketoff’s referenced document: The stock market reaction is significantly positive when relocation decisions are attributed to cost savings, indicating that cost savings available at suburban locations outweigh any loss of enhancements associated with urban location.

    JK: Shouldn’t Portland try to become the low cost location for corporations?

    Thanks JK

  • cab (unverified)
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    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4696567.stm Hewlett-Packard cuts 14,500 staff

    Yeah these are the type businesses we want in Portland.

  • Eric Berg (unverified)
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    "Get U of O or OSU into the top tier of public school rankings - we need more talent going to school in state and working here."

    PSU, too.

    Aside from the obvious - education, education, education - any state could create a competitive advantage for employers and foster economic growth by having some sort of universal health care.

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    Chuck,

    Can you answer a question for me? This has come up in debates here, and in discussions I am having with Sam Adams's staff over on his blog.

    It is often claimed that (small businesses)(local businesses) [these are sometimes both used, sometimes used interchangably] provide:

    1) Better jobs 2) Better paying jobs 3) Better benefits along with their jobs 4) More stable jobs

    Are any of these true? I recall first encountering this during the debate over the Starbucks at Five Points. It became clear that Starbucks wages and benefits far exceeded the "local" business, Red and the Black, which we were supposed to prefer.

    Cab's post above is another example. Yes, HP is cutting jobs... but if I recall, about half of new small businesses go out of business after four years. So I'm not sure an HP is such a bad employer to have around.

    I'm not trying to set local business against national or international corporate business. I am trying to figure out whether an economic development policy that claims to be creating good, family wage jobs for its citizens and at the same time focusing on local business is pursuing complementary or competing goals.

  • Adventuregeek (unverified)
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    <h2>JK Said:</h2>

    I just wonder what we could attract if the city said: We don’t care what color you paint your building We don’t care how many trees you plant. We don’t care how many parking spaces you provide for your customers and employees. We don’t care how big your parking spaces are. We don’t expect you force your employees to give up their cars, or you pay a fine.

    <hr/>

    Well JK, I think we all know what kind of corporation you could attract. One that doesn care what kind of community it locates in and doesn't fit with our values. Portland exists for it's flesh and blood residents, not for the benifit of a pile of money called a corporation. The voters of Portland have decided that trees, architecture and a nice places to live are more important than parking lots and corporate profits. Maybe we aren't the highest earners because of that decision, but as they say you can't take it with you.

    If you don't agree then there's hundreds of other "wonderful" cities like Atlanta, Houston, etc etc. that will fit you just fine. They have the parking lots of your dreams.

    And in case your wondering if I'm some pinko, no I own a small business. I understand that by being located in Portland I may be leaving a little money on the table, but the trade off is worth it. Portland's daily rewards that I and my employees enjoy and can't be measured in dollars.

  • Adventuregeek (unverified)
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    Oh, also, what CEO of a Fortune 500 company would send their kids to a public school no matter how good they are?

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)
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    Adventure On, geek! Mostly these voices seem wanting some 'grown-up' (their psychological projection on a Fortune 500 Company), to come in their room and clean it up for them. Come in their lives and live it up for them. Come across with the deep scratch (that's beatnik for 'money,' to translate), made by exploiting who cares who, who cares where, some third world rain forest or something, no relation to their responsibility; just come across with the big piles for a few 8 to 5, or 9 to 4 brain tricks -- full perks, full bennies, full ride, full employment, no sweat.

    These are the Oregonian wannabes. They just got here. This is Oregon. Grow your own.

    You gotta have something to trade. So learn a trade, whether it's shoe repair, car mechanic, bicycle manufacturer, metal work, wood work, home-energy system installer and maintainer, cook, butcher, baker, candlestick maker. Doctor is good, learn doctor. Musician is good, especially in Portland. The model the economy is moving toward is the traditional 'starving artist.' Once the refuge of the young and 'just starting out,' it may soon be the family lifestyle, (think: gypsies, think fiddler on the roof, think work to live not live to work, think 'grown-up' 500 Companies are not wanted here, nor is Forbes OR Fortune).

    This is Oregon. We are happy to have you visit, but don't stay.

    I used to work for IBM. I used to work for IT&T. I used to work for Kroger. I started two companies of my own; went bankrupt. I used to work for (I lost count) small companies. Intel offered me a job, Microsoft offered me a job, I refuse to work for them. I'd like to interview Wieden + Kennedy, but I haven't tried too hard to get their attention. Today I was four hours in the sun putting in a new back lawn for a regular ordinary residential homeowner. Four hours is enough. I do it because homeowner is good people; the neighbor couldn't hire me at twice the price, (and did come to the fence and ask: 'How much would you charge ...?' 'I don't know you,' I said.) I came home and typed this, and as the evening cools off maybe I can get out in my own garden and pick some peas and beans, water the lettuce and tomatoes and melons. I see the fish market had wild salmon on special when I went by. I need to see my dentist to fix the tooth I chipped last week. I wonder if he needs a website constructed.

    See, there's this big disappointment. Those born after 1970, say, they don't get the American dream, appliance-soaked leisure lifestyle that grown-ups got from '60 to '95. Now there's a lot of denial about this, I understand, I understand. They want the good times in their time. Just like they see on TV. Sorry, party's over. The oil's gone. It's probably going to be tempting to blame the baby boomers for taking it all, and they did, somewhat, but the blame is on their parents. Who Brokaw dubbed the Greatest generation, because they deserve the greatest amount of blame. When they came home from WW II, they should have put away the military, like it was before WW II -- put away their toys. Instead of pumping it bigger and bigger and bigger. Go back to the farm and build your own, grow your own, instead of getting a new car every two years and getting a job in that economic hustle. The third world is not striving to catch up and have 'the American life.' That's just a myth American lifers tell whoever is gullible enough to listen. The third- (and second- ) worlds are waiting for America's overrun and overreach to collapse and fall back to them, fall back to sanity, fall back to sustainability, fall back to earth. Live three generations under one roof. I understand, there's a lot of denial blocking seeing this. Just say, if your choice is get a job or learn a trade / craft / skill, choose the one noone can take away from you or fire you from.

    Whoever the commenter (above) was who was talking about 'traffic congestion booga-booga-booga,' make a point to read the July 18 article on gas rationing; no, it's energy rations. This year or next.

    <h1/>
  • jim karlock (unverified)
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    Adventuregeek | July 19, 2005 04:09 PM: JK Said: I just wonder what we could attract if the city said: We don’t care what color you paint your building We don’t care how many trees you plant. We don’t care how many parking spaces you provide for your customers and employees. We don’t care how big your parking spaces are. We don’t expect you force your employees to give up their cars, or you pay a fine.

    <hr/>

    Adventuregeek | July 19, 2005 04:09 PM: Well JK, I think we all know what kind of corporation you could attract. One that doesn care what kind of community it locates in and doesn't fit with our values.

    JK: I think you mean YOUR values. My values are a family wage job that doesn’t belch too much smoke (say no more that a fleet of TriMet busses). AND I want people to drive cars so that they can save energy, time and money instead of using public welfare transit. And, of course driving is safer than light rail, so I want people to avoid light rail..

    Adventuregeek | July 19, 2005 04:09 PM: Portland exists for it's flesh and blood residents, not for the benifit of a pile of money called a corporation.

    JK: Corporations, large and small, provide most of the jobs. Do you have something against jobs? And ALL corporations are run by people, many of which are residents.

    Adventuregeek | July 19, 2005 04:09 PM: The voters of Portland have decided that trees, architecture and a nice places to live are more important than parking lots and corporate profits. Maybe we aren't the highest earners because of that decision, but as they say you can't take it with you.

    JK: I don’t recall that vote, when was it?

    Adventuregeek | July 19, 2005 04:09 PM: If you don't agree then there's hundreds of other "wonderful" cities like Atlanta, Houston, etc etc. that will fit you just fine. They have the parking lots of your dreams.

    JK: Are you suggesting that I should leave the city of my birth because I don’t like what you want to do to it? Why don’t you leave instead - go find some other city to save by turning it in to LA..

    Adventuregeek | July 19, 2005 04:09 PM: And in case your wondering if I'm some pinko, no I own a small business. I understand that by being located in Portland I may be leaving a little money on the table, but the trade off is worth it. Portland's daily rewards that I and my employees enjoy and can't be measured in dollars.

    JK: Would you be kind enough to describe your business by industry and size.

    Adventuregeek | July 19, 2005 04:09 PM: Oh, also, what CEO of a Fortune 500 company would send their kids to a public school no matter how good they are?

    JK: Are you sure that NONE do? A lot of them are real people, not the stuffed shirts that you appear to be picturing.

    Thanks JK, Portland born native who is sad to see us losing our livability through top down city planning.

  • jim karlock (unverified)
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    Tenskwatawa | July 19, 2005 06:21 PM Whoever the commenter (above) was who was talking about 'traffic congestion booga-booga-booga,' make a point to read the July 18 article on gas rationing; no, it's energy rations. This year or next.

    JK: Better get ready to walk, because transit uses energy too. About the same amount as cars.

    See: http://www.saveportland.com/Car_Vs_Tri-Met/TriMet_vs_Car5.htm

    And: Page 2-14 of TRANSPORTATION ENERGY DATA BOOK: EDITION 24 ORNL-6973 (download from: http://cta.ornl.gov/data/download24.shtml

    Tenskwatawa | July 19, 2005 06:21 PM it's energy rations. This year or next.

    JK: That will only ensure continued shortage. Only letting the price rise will cure the shortages like it did when the feds ended price controls on natural gas. That day was the highest price for a long time. Rationing and price controls only restrict supply as the Russians proved time after time in their brainless adherence to socialist ideas.

    Thanks JK

  • cab (unverified)
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    JK,

    I'm glad your values lost in the 70's. Your Pave the world mentality really could have done some damage to our beautiful city. It always amazes me to read someone who doesn't like TREES. We're not all born in the place we belong, maybe its time for a new look. All the values you stated above are too be found in other areas. Maybe you missed it but the Pacific NW is full of those damn wasteful trees, why not try Las Vegas a more natural setting for your values. No trees to get in the way of business.

  • steve s (unverified)
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    adventuregeek---"The voters of Portland have decided that trees, architecture and a nice places to live are more important than parking lots and corporate profits."----

    Now that's funny. How were the voters getting their way with the Goldschmidt cabal which handed "corporate" Bechtel a no-bid contract and windfall "corporate" profits for building the Airport MAX?

    How are the voters getting their way with the South Waterfront giveaway to "corporate" interests at the expense of taxpayers and basic services?

    Cab, The "pave the world mentality" is the essence of Metro and our various planners as they infill the region with roofs, concrete and asphalt. Cramming more into areas once greener and less crowded while ignoring all of the detriments. That's your game and it aint working despite you endless repeating of Metro rhetoric.

  • jim karlock (unverified)
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    cab | July 20, 2005 07:35 AM I'm glad your values lost in the 70's. Your Pave the world mentality really could have done some damage to our beautiful city.

    JK: What pave the world are you referring to? Oh, you must mean planner’s dreams like you see in the Pearl - all there is there are pavement and roofs. No lawns, no back yards. All runoff goes tothe sewer system. All of it is imperious surfaces. (Except the tiny multi million toy park beside the toy streetcar line)

    cab | July 20, 2005 07:35 AM It always amazes me to read someone who doesn't like TREES.

    JK: I like trees. I just don’t they should be forced on people. Since most people like trees, there is no need to force them on the few that have problems with them.

    cab | July 20, 2005 07:35 AM We're not all born in the place we belong, maybe its time for a new look. All the values you stated above are too be found in other areas. Maybe you missed it but the Pacific NW is full of those damn wasteful trees, why not try Las Vegas a more natural setting for your values.

    JK: I was born here - were you? Maybe you should leave town for some place more in need of your green religion zealotry. I hear there are a lot of brown cities in Texas and California that could use your help.

    Thanks JK

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