Mayor-elect Sam Adams talks about his economic plan for Portland in an Oregon Business Magazine interview with Abraham Hyatt titled “The Adams Doctrine: Portland’s Mayor-to-be offers a sneak preview of his economic plan, short on strategy but long on hope.” (here) In part, he says:
There will be a lot of individual opportunities but
developing our relationship with China and developing our design apparel sector
are the greatest opportunities for improving our traded sector. I will tell you
having spent almost two weeks in China that the place is an environmental
disaster. And they need what we have in terms of sustainable design, in terms
of urban planning, in terms of green and sustainable architecture and land-use
planning. I mean, it’s a huge market — they’re going to build 40 brand-new
cities of one million people or more in the next two decades. I sat next to a
major developer at lunch and he’s like, “We can’t hire enough building
designers.” And this particular developer has embraced the LEED concept out of
the United States. A: He believes in it; and B: he knows that if he does that
he’s going to get a higher percentage of foreign buyers in his projects. So
there’s an opportunity for little old Portland, little bitty Portland.
At the same time we have Adidas, Nike, Columbia Sportswear; we have [footwear maker] Keen. These are four or five of some of the biggest apparel firms and they’re importing their design talent. They can be partners with us to make sure we have a national-class design school. I’m interested in partnering up with the best European or Asian design schools to have an outpost here in Portland. The global economy plays a very big role in my mind because — whether I like it or not is not the question — my job is to make sure Portland and the Portland region and the state succeed in it. I intend to do whatever I can from the public side to provide leadership or to use this office as a bully pulpit and get the players to work together. If we’re building those partnerships then I think we can move quickly in terms of being best in our class in some areas. You know, if we’re not best in our class in the green and sustainable industries then shame on us — it was ours to lose.
He is 100% right in seeing the China’s market as an economic opportunity for Portland businesses. Any country that might have an economy twice the size of the US economy is. China is a very big opportunity.
Looking further at Adams’ draft plan, two of his ten points have an international aspect:
7) Increase Exports of Local Products and Services
The US dollar has lost upwards of 30% of its value in the recent past against other foreign currencies. The upside of this fact is that Portland products and services are now relatively cheaper abroad – and so we have the opportunity to bring new resources into the region even as our national economy slows. Oregon's export shipments in 2006 totaled $15.3 billion – which represents approximately 10% of our state’s GDP. Top export industries are computer and electronic products, transportation equipment, and machinery manufacturers. With the dollar weakening overseas, and increased demand for our exports, how do we help our smaller firms tap into international markets and global trade?
• Host a global trade summit with elected leaders, residents, trade unions, business to discuss trade-related opportunities, increase participation in trade missions and
strengthen joint public/private strategies. The summit would:
• Advertise available resources, such as the Oregon Economic and Community Development Departments International’s program to assist in export strategies to Asia
• Encourage local businesses to form Export Networks. By cooperating in strategic areas – and linking to experts in country- or industry-specific markets -- these local businesses will be able to exploit opportunities beyond the reach of individual firms.
• Provide a forum for businesses to discuss issues of significance for achieving export success with public decision makers from PDC, the Port of Portland, the Small Business Administration and the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department. New Investment: $10,000
• Support regional effort to provide Export Strategy Assistance. This best practice, commonly called “Economic Gardening,” assists companies with their export capabilities and prospects, and will use an accredited consultant to develop a practical export market plan that integrates export activity into a company's business plan. New City Investment: $50,000
8) Support Tourism Industry
Amid the slowdown in residential construction, our tourism industry is thriving with traveler-spending up by 5.3% over last year and hotel occupancy at 76.2% -- 13 points higher than the national average. Thanks to the weak dollar and Portland’s emerging reputation, the Portland metro area should continue to see an increase in conventions and visitors and visitor spending.
• Maintain our support to Travel Portland and work with partners to publicize Portland’sworld class arts & culture events to amplify the positive trends in the tourism industry. At the same time, we can work with the Workforce Investment Board and industry employers to help make sure the new jobs created provide career pathways and other opportunities for advancement. New City Investment: No additional resource
I think Adams is on to something. Portland’s optimal future is to be a new international city – a concentration of creative knowledge workers well connected to global markets. I think he is starting to see and define this in discussion with others. This is great. He just needs to see that the strategic upgrading of public educations world (foreign) language programs and study abroad opportunities is essential to this emerging vision. We need knowledge workers in Portland who know foreign markets. We should both train them here and import them.