High tech is Oregon’s leading industrial sector, responsible for more than 85,000 workers. The largest single segment is semiconductor manufacturers, which comprises 32% of total employment for the sector.

Oregon accounts for about ten percent of the nation’s output of semiconductors, and is a major center for research and development. For example, Intel secures more patents for the research it performs in Oregon than from all of its other worldwide operations combined.

Note:  The content on this page was generated with the help of Tech America, Oregon.

Industry Overview

Home to the Silicon Forest, the local concentration of high-tech and semiconductor companies have made a name for Oregon across the globe. Four companies sparked the evolution of high-tech in Oregon: Tektronix in the 1950s and 1960s, Intel and Hewlett Packard in the ‘70s and Mentor Graphics in the ‘80s. These companies have each spun-off hundreds of other startups, and evolved into a robust supply chain.  Some notable companies with operations in Oregon include Xerox, ESI, RadiSys, FLIR, FEI, and TriQuint.  Computers and electronic products lead Oregon exports, accounting for about $8 billion in annual export sales, about 40 percent of the state’s total exports. The largest cluster of Oregon technology companies is located around the city of Hillsboro, anchored by Intel’s largest facility in the world and supported by a highly skilled and experienced workforce. The prowess Oregon has gained with its semiconductor industry has helped spawn other sectors such as bioscience, solar devices, digital displays and software development.

Cluster Strengths

  • Oregon’s regulatory infrastructure is conducive to growth.
  • There is little inter-company disagreement on public policy issues.
  • The state has ample professional services expertise in areas such as law and accounting.
  • Business tax structure and targeted tax incentives are coherent and accessible.
  • Oregon lifestyle and quality of life are helpful in recruiting talented people.

Cluster Challenges

  • An increasingly globalized economy means outsourcing software development, and that means that more foreign students are being educated in the U.S. and returning to their home countries to set up businesses.
  • Dispersed higher education funding is lacking. Out of Oregon’s eight public universities, none are considered truly world-class and Oregon lacks a world class engineering college.
  • K-12 education system is declining nationally and more needs to be done to provide teachers with the right skills and understanding to train Oregon students for careers in high tech.
  • Transportation infrastructure with growing traffic congestion detracts from quality of life.

Semiconductors and Computer Hardware by the Numbers

Sector

Semiconductors & Computer Hardware

Economic  Impact

Average Wage: $82,600 (2008)
Cluster Employment: 85,900 (2008)
Avg Wage Growth: 0% (2004-2006)
Percentage of State Exports: 44% (2008)
Value of exports: $8.5 billion (2008, 6th highest in U.S.)

Source: Cyberstates 2010 and Trade in the CyberStates 2009 TechAmerica

Initiatives and Priorities

  • Continue public-private partnership to invest in STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) at the K-12 level and in building public university engineering and computer science programs through the existingEngineering and Technology Industry Council (ETIC).  Major investments have been made over the past 10 years in ETIC.  Oregon needs to continue this momentum to ensure it can meet the needs of employers in the future.
  • Continue existing state tax policies that support innovation and trader-sector companies. The state should maintain its “single sales factor” formula for multi-state tax apportionment, and it should extend the state Research and Development tax credit, which is set to expire at the end of 2011.
  • Foster an environment that is conducive to start-ups:  Improve Oregon’s access to capital, including venture capital and stage two funding, by demonstrating that the intellectual capital for success exists in Oregon.
  • Continue to educate policymakers about the importance of the technology sector to Oregon’s economy.  Support efforts to encourage business attraction by articulating Oregon’s high-tech strengths.
  • Continue to educate policymakers about the importance of global trade to the health of Oregon’s export-based economy.  Avoid state-level policies that work against a healthy trade environment.
  • Invest in and market Oregon’s “lifestyle” advantage. Recognize the importance of low commute times (at least lower than in other major tech markets), quality schools, and environmental stewardship to Oregon’s quality of life.

    Notable Companies

    IntelHewlett PackardXeroxESIRadiSysFLIRFEITriQuint

    Industry Associations

The Technology Association of Oregon is the leading organization for Oregon’s high tech companies.

Skip Newberry
President
Technology Association of Oregon
503.228.5416