BUSINESS SERVICES
From Oregon Investment Guide 2024
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Where to Find Business Solutions in the Northwest

Greater Portland is a mecca for business services firms.

BUSINESS SERVICES
The St. John’s Bridge, built in 1931 and styled after San Francisco’s famed Golden Gate Bridge, spans the Willamette River in Portland.
Photo courtesy of Travel Oregon

by MARK AREND
O

regon is quickly emerging as a hub for companies providing a range of business-to-business services, including engineering, accounting, architecture and advertising, among others. About a quarter-million people, or roughly 16% of Oregon’s private-sector workforce, work in the professional and business services sector. In 2023, more than 28,000 professional and business services firms operated in Oregon in 2021.

The State of Oregon Employment Department tracks employment and wage data across three business services categories — professional and technical services, management of companies and enterprises, and administrative and waste services.

The first category is the largest, with more than 103,000 people employed in nearly a dozen professions. The top three are computer systems design and related services at 17,000 workers, accounting and bookkeeping services (12,000) and engineering services (11,500).

The management of companies and enterprises category includes more than 1,400 companies that combined employ nearly 48,000 people. Administrative and support and waste management category companies number more than 8,000 with more than 98,000 working in such professions as temporary help, landscaping and janitorial services, call centers and waste collection.

The Portland Factor
The Portland area’s credentials as a magnet for creative talent are underscored by the many advertising and design firms clustered there in addition to the dozens of engineering, architectural, video production and other service providers.

Thousands of professional and business services workers are located outside the Portland metro in such counties as Deschutes in central Oregon with 10,000 workers, Jackson (7,800) on the state’s southern border with California and Benton (4,300) in western Oregon. But as the state’s largest commercial center, it stands to reason that most are in the Portland-Vancouver (Washington)-Hillsboro metropolitan statistical area. Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties combined are home to more than 158,000 business services workers.

About 1,900 of them work at the Portland office of Dallas-based Jacobs, which provides engineering, technical, professional and construction services. Comcast employs about 800, and Wieden+Kennedy, a global advertising agency, employs more than 500 at its Portland headquarters. Other business services companies headquartered in the metro include David Evans and Associates (engineering, planning and environmental services), Logical Position (digital marketing and search engine optimization), Sigma Design (product design and engineering), Thesis (digital services) and LAIKA (film animation studio).

Design and media is a key industry sector in Portland. About 33,000 people work at more than 2,500 establishments in the sector, according to Greater Portland, Inc., the metro area’s chief economic development agency. The sector has a $4.2 billion impact, according to the agency. Add other business and professional services to the equation, and that economic impact is much higher.

Oregon’s Employment Department has another measure of the business services industry’s momentum in the state. It’s one of eight industries that had real wage gains from the first quarter of 2022 to the first quarter of 2023, it reported in March 2024. But professional and business services, with a 2.0% increase, had the highest real wage gain.

Mark Arend
Editor Emeritus of Site Selection magazine

Mark Arend

Mark Arend is editor emeritus of Site Selection, and previously served as editor in chief from 2001 to 2023. Prior to joining the editorial staff in 1997, he worked for 10 years in New York City at Wall Street Computer Review, ABA Banking Journal and Global Investment Technology. Mark graduated from the University of Hartford (Conn.) in 1985 and lives near Atlanta, Georgia.

 

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