Economic development leaders in Portland, OR unveiled their plans to recruit more companies to the region’s athletic and outdoor industry cluster at a meeting last week.

The plan is based on a 51-page study that found Oregon's athletic and outdoor industry, while based predominantly in the Portland area, employs more than 14,000 workers statewide; includes more than 700 firms with a payroll that in 2008 totaled nearly $1.2 billion. The industry provides average annual wages of more than $80,000 and creates employment for as many as 3,200 self-employed people who generate revenues of more than $95 million.

Among the recommendations in the report’s action plan, are that the region:

Acknowledge and promote the region’s leadership position as the world’s premiere athletic and outdoor industry cluster.
Promote networking of firms and professionals in the athletic and outdoor cluster.

Develop a materials resource library, including samples, at the newly established Portland Center of Design & Innovation for product designers.

Expand industry specific education to prepare more Oregonians to compete for jobs in this globally competitive industry.

Look for opportunities to on-shore manufacturing.

Address key state and local policies on taxes and education funding.

Expand the public sector economic development tools to address the challenges of a globalized, knowledge-driven sector of the economy.

“Nike, Columbia and Adidas are the pillars and foundation firms of this cluster,” reads the executive summary of the report. “The tension between fierce market competition among corporations and frequent movement of workers among firms has helped propel the cluster’s growth over time.”

The report was released Nov. 16 at an event hosted by Portland Mayor Sam Adam, the Portland Development Commission, Business Oregon and the Oregon Business Council. It includes a fascinating info graphic map illustrating the history of athletic and outdoor business in the region and its exponential growth in the past 10 years.

“This athletic and outdoor industry work represents an important component of the city's strategy to create new jobs for Portland,” said Adams. “Portland is the home of the best brands in the industry, and I'm pleased to see such a strong public-private effort to further job growth in the A&O sector.”

Present at the event were Tim Boyle, CEO, Columbia Sportswear; Elliot Hill, VP and GM North America, Nike; and Paul Ehrlich, general counsel and VP, human resources/business affairs, Adidas, as well as a panel discussion with industry experts Sue Parker, CEO, Frank Creative; Enrique Washington, President, Generator Group; Sean Beers, CEO, Korkers Products; and Mark Sandquist, President, Global Apparel and Accessories, Wolverine Worldwide.


A full copy of the report can be downloaded at: