Oregon is home to more than 1,500 software companies, and is particularly strong in the areas of: electronic design automation, digital media, financial solutions, open source, educational and training software, mobile software, embedded software, and healthcare applications.  Efforts to strengthen Oregon’s base of financial and human capital are critical for the continued growth of this industry.

Industry Overview

The software industry in Oregon had its roots early in the region’s semiconductor era. Software is everywhere today and represents a signficant ($9 Billion) financial impact on the state. Skilled software workers in Oregon produce the code that makes medical equipment, websites, automotives, computer chips and a host of other products viable in today’s market. Currently the software industry is composed of those that publish and sell software, those who have web-based companies, those that embed software in their products and Information Technology (IT) professionals that support and a business’ technological infrastructure, which is inclusive of both high-tech and traditional businesses.

Cluster Organizations

The Technology Association of Oregon is the leading organization for Oregon software companies. There are many associations that represent sub-sectors of the industry. Since its inception in 1989, the Technology Association of Oregon (formerly the Software Association of Oregon) has become an important advocate for educational funding and workforce development for the area’s knowledge workers and entrepreneurs.

Notable software companies in Oregon are located in Hillsboro, Portland, Beaverton, Wilsonville, Corvallis, Eugene-Springfield, Central Oregon, and the Gorge. They include Acquia, Act-On, AppFog, Elemental Technologies, Clinicient, Cloudability, CrowdCompass/Cvent, Deck Monitoring, Drupal,  eBay, G5 Search Marketing, Giftango, IBM, Intel, Jama, JanRain, JiveMentor Graphics, Microsoft, Puppet Labs, Sage, Salesforce, ShopIgniter, Walmart Labs, WebMD, WebTrends, Urban Airship, Vesta, among many others.

The Oregon Business Development Department (“Business Oregon”), has identified High Technology (in which software is included) as a key growth industry for Oregon.  Visit the Business Oregon High Technology page to learn more.

The Portland Development Commission has also included Software as a key industry cluster in Portland’s Economic Development Strategy.  Visit the strategy website to learn more about what they are doing to boost Software jobs in the Portland region.

High Tech by the Numbers

Sector

IT/ Software

Economic  Impact

Average Wage: $105,665 (2011)
Median Hourly Wage: $33.33 (2011) *
Cluster Employment: 50,527 (2011)
Establishments: 1,821 (Q1 2011)
*For the Tri-County region of Clackamas, Multnomah, & Washington counties.

Source: Oregon Employment Department, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Oregon Employment Department Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, 2011

Cluster Strengths

  • Networking opportunities – Oregon has an active network of people that organize social events critical to progress in development.
  • Significant Research & Development – HP, Intel, and other major high-tech companies do their research & development in Oregon due to our human capital and tax credits.
  • Open Source – two of the greatest minds in Open Source reside in Oregon: Ward Cunningham (father of the Wiki_ and Linus Torvalds (father of Linux), as well ast eh Open Source Lab at Oregon State University and many open source start-up companies.
  • Sub-clusters in collaboration, financial, education, construction, medical, automated flight, gaming, sustainability, G.I.S., insurance and talent management software development
  • Progressive mentality – Software professionals value creativity, freedom, originality, education, artistic endeavors and appreciate nature/sustainability

Cluster Challenges

  • Industry Promotion
    • Despite exponential growth in recent years, Oregon’s technology industry is not as well-known in major markets globally as technology hubs to the North and South.
  • Financial Capital
    • Less local capital with a strong technology focus available to entrepreneurs on a per-capita basis than in neighboring states. The result is that more companies have to seek funding from outside of the state.
    • Oregon’s nation-leading capital gains tax causes tax advisers who exercise fiscal prudence to encourage high tech entrepreneurs to leave the state before selling their business.
    • The Oregon Investment Fund, with over $150 million in capital, invests a small percentage into Oregon-based start-ups, in spite of a legislative mandate to do so.
  • Human Capital
    • Qualified workers – local companies must import qualified workers to augment the local supply
    • Few students pursuing degrees – the demand for computer science degrees lags far behind the demand for these skilled workers. Many students and parents are still under the (incorrect) impression that outsourcing will make these jobs nonexistent.
    • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in K-20 lacks strong emphasis and funding. There is a lower rate of women and minorities in these classes as well.

Recent Accomplishments

  • In 2012 the Software Association of Oregon changed its name to the Technology Association of Oregon and welcomed board members, staff, member companies and sponsors from the former TechAmerica Oregon chapter.
  • In 2012 the Software Association of Oregon created Techlandia.org in partnership with the Portland Development Commission. Techlandia.org is a website and database that profiles over 350 of Oregon’s technology companies. It also displays industry data, news, and trends.
  • In 2011 the City of Portland launched the Portland Seed Fund with funding from the City of Portland, the State of Oregon, City of Hillsboro, and matching private sector funds. The Seed Fund is now on its third class of startup companies.
  • In 2009 the City of Portland adopted an Economic Development Strategy recognizing Software as one of four key target industries.

Key Initiatives

  • Develop an interactive map and jobs matching solution as part of Phase II of the Techlandia.org website and database.
  • Invest in Science, Math, Engineering & Technology education in Pre-K through post-graduate educational system. Make policy leaders, foundations, universities, teacher training programs, educators, career counselors and parents/guardians aware of and committed to encouraging the pursuit of the education required to obtain these jobs.
  • Secure and administer workforce development dollars to improve the skills of existing knowledge workers.
  • Provide a range of economic development tools to keep companies in the region, give incentives for companies to relocate here, and decrease taxes that cause investment capital to flee.

Cluster Contacts

Skip Newberry
President
Technology Association of Oregon

503.228.5416

Jared Wiener
Portland Development Commission– Software Cluster
Senior Project Manager and Business & Industry Liaison