Key findings from the first-ever report to analyze the impact of the athletic, outdoor, team, and recreational industries in Oregon paint a picture of a huge economic force poised for significant growth.
debuted at the annual meeting on June 30. Prepared by industry-leading real estate and economic development consulting firm , it is the first comprehensive study of Oregon’s competitive advantages and the economic impact of these industries in Greater Portland, Bend, and Eugene, with a deeper dive into the dynamics of Greater Portland.
Andrew Hoan, Portland Business Alliance President and CEO, says the report lays the groundwork for a focused effort throughout the state to nurture and capitalize on the strengths that make the sports industry vital to Oregon’s future. What the report calls Oregon’s sports “ecosystem” is an interdependent, synergistic combination of people, places, and programs. In 2019, this ecosystem contributed $29 billion in economic output and $976 million in taxes to the state.
On the cusp of reopening the economy
Hoan says that pandemic closures, despite keeping Oregon one of the safest states in the country, did damage to the economy. “We’re on the cusp of opening back up,” he says, and the report provides a solid source of information to fuel an upward trajectory: “We want collective leadership and policy makers at all levels to be aware that this is our economy, it makes us different, and we need to advance policies that help it grow.”
Despite its smaller population size, Greater Portland outpaces the Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Denver markets in the number, growth, and concentration of high-skilled, high-paying jobs in the sports industry. With the ability to recruit top talent, share talent, and cultivate a strong pipeline of talent from respected educational programs, Greater Portland, Eugene and Bend directly employ 51,000 workers in these industries, and another 79,000 spinoff jobs. Sports employment overall saw a 50% growth from 2010 to 2019, and the majority of businesses in the ecosystem have 20 or fewer employees.
Oregon’s sports industry offers the best of lifestyle and career
Many of the world’s iconic sports apparel companies design, manufacture, and distribute their goods in Oregon. Employers include major brands such as Nike Inc., Columbia Sportswear, Adidas, Metolius Climbing, Danner, Keen, Leatherman, and On Running; as well as hundreds of startups, spinoffs, and industry-specific support companies. Manufacturing, retail and wholesale; professional services and design, tourism, sports instruction and sporting facilities, and professional teams all contribute to Oregon’s robust sports economy.
In 2021, Portland ranked number one as the best place to live on the West Coast and number 10 in the US, according to U.S. News & World Report. It’s a magnet for young talent, with the regional workforce growing at six times the national rate. Hoan notes that Oregon’s sports industry is a leader in diversity, inclusion, and environmental and sustainable practices:
“It is attracting workers who want to have their lifestyle blended with a career that is linked to the beauty and splendor of the state.”
The state has an abundance of outdoor recreation areas, from the Willamette River and Forest Park to Mt. Bachelor, Crater Lake National Park, 363 miles of coastline, and hundreds of wild rivers and lakes. It also includes quality of life factors such as walkable neighborhoods, an emphasis on caring for natural resources, and a thriving cultural and culinary scene.
Oregon offers a number of programs, including dozens of educational institutions, that provide sports-related training, entrepreneurship and world-class sporting facilities; as well as teams such the Portland Trail Blazers and Portland Timbers, both of which “punch above their weight” in terms of their franchise value.
Post-pandemic recovery is already underway
Recovery post-pandemic is looking strong, Hoan says, with the Oregon22 to be held for the first time in the United States at Eugene’s Hayward Field July 15-24. The competition attracts the world’s best track & field athletes from over 200 countries and is expected to generate $52 million in direct spending, with another $138 million in goods and services.
“Sporting events like this come around generationally, and we have to take advantage of it,” Hoan says. “Oregon and Portland now have national awareness. We’re a big metropolis, and we are now serious economic heavyweights. It’s time to recognize this. Why can’t we host the Olympics? Why can’t we host great business conferences that are grounded in the athletic world?”
U.S. Bank is a presenting sponsor of the report, which was commissioned by the and a coalition of regional and state-wide business associations. Visit the full report here: