Nike and Columbia were recently voted number one and number two for The Oregonian’s “Top-50 ranking of publicly traded businesses.” While journalists are giving these companies recognition, there is a perceived lack of support for the Footwear and Apparel business in the Northwest.

In a local paper, Steve Wynne, a Portland attorney and former adidas America chief executive said, “Whether it's Nike or Columbia or adidas or any of the other businesses here in the footwear and apparel industry, they have evolved and grown with absolutely no help of any kind from the state or city government.”

This kind of feeling seems to be commonplace. Columbia moved its headquarters out into the suburbs of Portland because the city made it too difficult to stay downtown.
“We really wanted to stay in the city,” said Tim Boyle, Columbia's president and chief executive. But he described the process of staying downtown as “arduous.”

Neither the footwear nor apparel industries made it onto a list for economic development efforts put together by the city of Portland. Portland Mayor, Vera Katz said to The Oregonian that these are, “…one of our emerging clusters…Just because we don't focus on them doesn't mean we ignore them.”

“Portland has the unique position of being the sportswear capital of the world,” said Erik Merk, CEO of InSport. “We’re in Beaverton, sandwiched right between Nike and Columbia, and I’m really happy here.”
He went on to say that NKE and COLM, “in essence, only have their executive teams based here, so I’m not sure what the city or state can do for them… all of their production is off shore.”

>>> So, life in Oregon may not be as bad as the big guns are claiming. There is something to be said for having your factory right down the road…