What you think you know about Portland may very well be wrong

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

It's a bunch of interesting findings. In a study of 51 metro areas by Joe Cortright for CEOs for Cities, there's a bunch of rankings that seem to run counter to Portland's image. (Joe is a well-respected and progressive economist that's written several guest columns here at BlueOregon, including on the CRC and Measures 66 and 67.)

Over at 1000 Friends of Oregon, Ted Sweeney takes note of the finding that the Portland region is great for small business, contrary to the prevailing narrative peddled by some business leaders:

The results provide interesting context, and even some contradictions, for two common narratives about the Portland region—that Portland is economically fragile, and that it is a beacon of transit use and walkability.

The Portland region comes out near the top of the heap on the economic indicators in the City Vitals report. Of the 51 city regions, Portland is #5 in the number of small businesses per capita, higher than Boston, Los Angeles, or Minneapolis-St. Paul. On the measure of entrepreneurship, Portland ranks #4, and had the 7th highest number of patents issued, beating out New York and Chicago.

By contrast, our vaunted livability and weirdness? Well, not so much:

On the other hand, despite our reputation, “Portlandia” isn’t as strongly represented in the City Vitals numbers as some might expect. For one thing, the Portland region does not rank on top in terms of active transportation and transit use. The core city of Portland comes in at #12 on walkability, beaten out by, among others, Miami. The region is also #12 in transit use among non-poor workers, far below #8, Los Angeles. ...

And those hoping to “Keep Portland Weird” may need to strive a little harder; the region ranked #16 on the report’s weirdness index (which measured “distinctive” local consumer habits against national norms), less weird than Seattle, San Diego, or Atlanta. The region isn’t the first choice for “where young people go to retire,” either. On the report’s “Young and Restless” scale, the percentage of 25-34 year olds with a college degree, the Portland region ranks only 16th, behind Raleigh, Columbus, and Baltimore.

There's a lot more over at 1000 Friends, including rankings on poverty, voting, restaurant variety, and much more. You can also check out a 43-slide preview of the report at CEOs for Cities.

What do you think?

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    Of interest to me from the City Vital 2.0 report is that on the four indicators of what I would call an "international city," Portland ranks in the middle - neither top nor bottom five (see here)

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    Lots of work yet to do on walkability (and not just through our walk score, which is the metric and somewhat reliant on private investments - various parts of the city aren't dense enough to drive investments to get high walk scores).

    We're still throwing millions of dollars at highway expansion projects while people die nearly every year trying to walk across Foster, 82nd, and Burnside. Just these past two weeks we dedicated another $3.3 million to the CRC and $6 million to add a half-mile lane to I-84.

    But there's some hope in the data. Ted also writes: "The Portland region helps lead the nation in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions per capita (2nd lowest levels) and in the reduction of driving (4th lowest number of vehicle miles traveled), indicating that transportation investments paired with proactive land use planning are helping to create choices about how to get around, as well as bringing work and home closer together for more residents."

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    Steph Routh's op-ed about pedestrian safety and funding priorities just appeared in the Oregonian. Check it out.

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