Portland’s national rise previewed by new data at Greater Portland Inc

Portland’s national rise previewed by new data at Greater Portland Inc Main Photo

9 Apr 2024

Economic News

CBRE data shows signs of optimism for regional comeback 


PORTLAND, Ore. (April 8, 2024) – Oregonians looking for signs of the region’s economic comeback got a dose of optimism Monday with new data from commercial real estate firm CBRE highlighting Greater Portland’s ready workforce, high concentration of life sciences talent, and global reputation for high quality food and beverage products.


Speaking at the first ever Greater Portland Economic Nexus event organized by Greater Portland Inc, and sponsored by Business Oregon and NAIOP, CBRE vice chairman Eric Stavriotis shared analysis of how Portland could leverage its advantages to reattract business to the region. 

Source: CBRE

A Ready Workforce

Leaning into Portland’s regional workforce talent in key sectors can be a competitive advantage as site selectors consider reducing their risks when considering moving here, Stavriotis said. “Their concerns are ‘Are we buying [available] talent or are we building talent,” he said. 


From food and athletic apparel to life sciences and advanced manufacturing, some of the most desirable sectors for growth are precisely those where Portland’s talent base excels. Stavriotis suggested leaning in to those sectors already strong in the region. 


“People need to say it: ‘We want more of this,’” said Stavriotis, who oversees location incentives for CBRE. He suggested the region’s key stakeholders be convened to define what we want, package it nicely, and go after it. 


A Life Sciences Leader

Comparing Greater Portland to cities like Pittsburgh, where Carnegie Melon University’s public announcements about its focus on AI have been credited with growing a new sector for that city’s economy, Stavriotis recommended Greater Portland could similarly benefit from its own talen base and proximity to other hubs such as Seattle, Sacramento, San Francisco, and San Diego. This strategic positioning presents an opportunity for Greater Portland to tap into the momentum of neighboring economies and establish itself as a key player in the industry.


While the greater Portland area is home to less than 0.1% of the US population, it is home to four times that percentage of the nation’s life science jobs, making the region the nation’s 22nd most concentrated job market for this critical sector, according to CBRE.

Source: CBRE

Available Industrial Land 

Portland also boasts one the lowest vacancy rates in the nation for industrial land – 3.3%, according to CBRE data. While that low level of available industrial land is a challenge, it’s still among the highest values on the West Coast. In regions like Los Angeles, where industrial land vacancy hovers near one percent, site selectors can write off those markets as essentially closed. With the wiggle room in Greater Portland, site selectors can still see space to invest, locate, and grow.


“Seeing the data today should remind our public and private sector leaders regionwide that it’s incumbent on us to prepare our industrial lands for new businesses and new growth,” said Monique Claiborne, president and CEO of Greater Portland Inc, the region’s official economic development agency for the metro area in Oregon and southwest Washington.

Source: CBRE

Renowned Food and Drink 

The food and beverage sector also looks to be a key opportunity for the region, according to CBRE analysis. “You have the right to win,” said Stavriotis, pointing to the logical constant growth in food to match population growth and the changing.


The Greater Portland Economic Nexus event brought together 50-some regional government, business, and economic development professionals to network and collaborate around new data to speed the region’s economic recovery.


Following the CBRE presentation, CBRE’s Ajay Malhotra moderated a panel with StavriotisOvidio Garcia, vice president of footwear at Arc'teryx Equipment, and Bruce Coleman, the head of economic development for the city of Sherwood, focused on areas of collaboration that make the region a positive destination for business. Arc’teryx, from Vancouver, BC, recently announced a raft of new hires to expand its footwear talent lineup in Oregon and expansion of its retail operations to include Tigard’s Washington Square.


Coleman pointed to his city’s success in the semiconductor industry and the value of private-public partnerships to grow the city’s economy form bedroom community to booming with global business. “You have got to have an attitude that you want it to happen,” Coleman said.