Two very significant growth changes in this town are:
PDX is home to OSCON, a long running, important Open Source Software conference. I've attended and volunteered a few years. We've got some good talent in this town, and are known world wide for promoting OSS software and the values typically associated with it. (One reason Wyden is focused and relevant on Tech issues, BTW)
New Relic is a very rapidly growing company centered here in PDX. They provide metrics for application performance, along with a ton of other data. Great niche, rapidly employing many people at very good wages. They are joined by the likes of Simple and others starting up nicely here.
If you frequent Silicon Florist, you will read about the PDX startup scene. Lot of good coming out of that, and those jobs pay well too. And of course, a few hard working people will cash out nicely, maybe continue the valley tradition of incubating and promoting more just like them.
Local Product design and Manufacturing:
There are a growing number of manufacturers here. PDX is a fairly good place to do this again, particularly compared to California, which remains difficult. The very large economy and talent base sees activity, but it's a tough gig. Here in PDX, we've got a good public transit system, a fairly well educated talent base, and manufacturing sees some synergy with the software and product development scene here.
PDX is home to several vertically integrated manufacturers. Some of them are seeing trouble, noting PDX did, or Oregon for that matter, just market forces at work. Others are doing quite nicely. It's entirely possible to secure a career here with a good company and do well and have it not be Nike or Intel.
My last 20 years of sales, service, training, support of high end engineering and data management software has given me visibility to the PDX scene, and most of the West Coast for a while. I got a good 5 year look at the Midwest and a smattering of the East in there too.
Oregon in general is seeing growth surrounding PDX and Bend, and it's data centers, software types, aircraft, product design and manufacturing of all kinds, and a fair number of start up companies making things. There were about 100 last year that I'm aware of, just FYI. Half fail, but half don't, and a few get bigger over time.
The economy here is not in bad shape. Yes, we are piling on minimum wage jobs just like everybody is, and that is systemic and slow to change, particularly given this "make him fail" Congress, who has not actually addressed jobs AT ALL, despite a Tea Party push for just that, when really it was all about abortion and gays. We all know what to do about that, and it's going to involve pulling that wage up some, and it's gonna be about making it cheaper for people to live. And that's going to take sustained votes for people who get it, right along with business modeling how to improve things, which a growing number of them appear to be doing.
Where I work now, every employee gets an annual Tri-Met pass. Most of them use it, and this does a LOT to make the wages they make go as far as they can. Other options are there for them to maximize their time and better themselves. Not all of them are things I want to talk about, but let's just say making sure people can make it is at the top of the list of concerns.
Increasingly, this attitude is growing in PDX. I know of a fair number of employers, some who have been working it this way for 10 years now, who have loyal people, company growing, everybody getting it done. That's not a growing norm in a lot of places, and Oregon overall, promotes this and I think it's a very good thing.
In the past PDX has been a media town. Still a lot of that here, but it's taken a serious beating as media has everywhere. Honestly, that's going to bias how people see things.
I have a similar bias having come up during the earlier "Silicon Forest" times when we had Tektronix spinning off all sorts of killer things, many of which grew into nice companies today, some staying here too.
A big software manufacturer you would recognize by name will be locating it's first Stateside factory here. Yep. In PDX of all places. Wages will be reasonable there, and I can't say any more.
PDX also has a vibrant maker scene, and linked to that is a lot of entrepreneurial activity, ranging from productions of various kinds, to new products, research, and manufacturing process development. There are companies here with manufacturing processes developed here that are worth a TON of money, as they really don't exist elsewhere, or where they do, are expensive.
Lots going on in this town.
For comparison, Northern California is heating up. Lots of similar hardware + software type startups there. Google is kicking off a wave of robotics and consumer products activity you would have to see to believe. Several hundred engineer class jobs will appear in Nor-Cal over the next year or so.
Some of that software and manufacturing will get done here in Oregon, and a fair amount of it will be sourced overseas too. Nature of the beast at present, but the outlook is increasingly good.
Most everybody knows we've got to make an ecosystem here and where new companies kick off, they want that. Older, established ones shipped it off shore, and some are bringing it back, or value added parts back, and where they don't, some of the new kids will beat them up with stuff increasingly made here.
Liberal policies do help!
There are lots of liberal, business minded people who get it here. And when they work together, good things happen, which is why PDX is seeing the growth in the areas I've mentioned. There are others, just outside my scope of visibility.
The talent doesn't want to work for dicks. They want a reasonable wage, work environment that makes sense and in general ends up being a place where they can be who they are, not some suit, or uniformed schlub. They want to get skills, grow with a company, advance, and have a future.
None of that is going to happen with older school means and methods. Yeah, the stuff resulting is cheaper, but a whole lot of people are beginning to figure out it's about margins, not share.
Add enough value to get the margins and your share will center on those people who value the product, will pay for it, and that ecosystem makes companies that pay wages that get people through much better than the mass chains do.
Small to mid-sized business is doing fairly well in Oregon, and it's Liberal policies which help that right along. Make no mistake about it.
My entire career here has been in small to mid-sized companies. And I've done well, but for that health care mess. Set me back, but every year, I'm getting back where I was, and here in PDX, I can do that very reasonably. There are a whole lot of places where I know I would have it much, much worse, or where I would have to work with a much larger company and make all those life sacrifices I don't really want to make.
During that time, I've worked with, seen inside of, and watched hundreds of firms in manufacturing, aerospace, product design, software, and some other niches here and there. The ones who get it are growing and made it through the end of the Bush years. The ones who don't get it, like say the clowns making silly threats over minor league business taxes, are generally not doing as well, or having trouble holding onto, or acquiring good people to continue.
The left has a lot of this right. Not all of it mind you, but seriously more than those morons on the TV would have you believe.
Turn that shit off. Go and start networking with people. And get your news from people who give a shit about the subject, who have education, and who aren't chained to some agenda or other. Get it overseas. Get it however you can get it, but don't get it from the clowns who make it super easy and entertaining. Where you see that shit, you are getting a load. Count on it.
As for damage, yes. We've not yet recovered from Bush, but we haven't yet recovered from Clinton either. Remember, he went along with this shit, signing trade agreements that decimated the once vibrant scene here. We are getting it back, and I've just written what I'm seeing, but there is a whole lot to be done too.
I like Clinton, and I like Liberals overall. But, I really don't like the trade agreements we continue to see being pushed through government. There are still far too many people in our government who don't get it economically.
That's every Republican I can think of, except for Huntsman, and a whole gaggle of Democrats fucking us over. Not pretty. Just some perspective there.
For what it's worth, there is some serious tension on the left brewing too. Progressives are pitted against older school, Clinton type Democrats who would gladly write a few more agreements to screw us, and also up against a growing libertarian sect, who is very socially liberal, but anti regulation, even when it's common sense regulation.
This can be easily seen in the minimum wage discussion, where Progressives are basically for it across the board, it's a mixed bag with Clinton type Democrats, and the new schoolers vary considerably, mostly negative, or if willing, only want very small, tepid increases.
Posted on August 7, 2014 - 12:27 AM