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Where Do the Jobs Go?

February 8, 2010

As we process the Portland Plan background reports, one of the most fascinating in my opinion is the Economic Opportunities Analysis – Alternative Choices (PDF).

It sets up a series of choices about where we plan for jobs in the next 25 years.

As background, Portland has about 40% of the jobs in the region (excellent when compared to other cities that are centers of their regions). But during the period from 2000-2006, we only captured about 11% of new  jobs. Over the period the Portland Plan covers (through 2035), we want to do better and expect (hope?) that somewhere between 18% and 36% of new jobs will locate in the City.

The report looks at different types of spaces and locations where we might accommodate these jobs, and what kind of public investments and policies this would take. Some of the locations types are:

  • Central City Office Space – there was relatively little new demand for this in the last decade, but we have lots of zoned capacity – what will the demand be in the next 25 years?
  • Do we need an Office cluster outside the Central City? An office center at Gateway or the Airport might provide lower cost office space to compete with places like Kruse Way and help improve jobs/housing balance by providing employment locations in the eastern part of the City.
  • Incubator space – inexpensive space where new companies can get started. Today the Central Eastside and Lower Albina play this role, but the projection is for more demand than these areas can handle. Should we upzone these areas or look for other areas for this function? Could this be an additional role that Gateway could fill?
  • Town Centers, neighborhood commercial districts and commercial corridors – what kind of jobs could/should go here and how do we plan for them?
  • Campus development – we have a few sites (Conway, Post Office site) that could work for new campus developments. What kinds of employers need it and how do they fit into the bigger picture?
  • Industrial space – how much do we need and where does it need to go. Can some of it be built ‘up’ in multistory development, or does it all need to be single-story?

Of course, all of this only makes sense where and when the private sector creates these jobs. How do we create City plans that are flexible and responsive to what will surely be changing trends in the private sector over the new few decades?

Come tell us what you think! We have two more hearings on the background reports:

  • Tuesday, February 9th, 1:15pm
  • Tuesday, March 9th, 1:15pm

The meeting on March 9th will focus on land supply, so would be particularly apt for this topic, but you’re welcome to testify on any topic at either of the hearings.

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