Metro region painfully short of shovel-ready sites

By Portland Business Alliance

A study released by the Portland Business Alliance, in partnership with four private- and public-sector partners, reports that there are only nine 25-plus acre industrial sites that could be shovel ready within 180 days within the Portland-metro urban growth boundary and selected urban reserves.

“What makes this study so pertinent is its real-world view of how a potential employer determines how and where they site a facility,” said J.E. Isaac, chair of the Portland Business Alliance board of directors. “In order for our region to be competitive in the global marketplace, we need a variety of industrial lands to meet a future employer’s needs and what this report shows is our region needs to get more sites shovel ready.”

The study was produced by Group Mackenzie in partnership with the Alliance, Port of Portland, Business Oregon, NAIOP Oregon Chapter (commercial real-estate development association) and Metro. The report focuses on industrial employers that require large lots which are frequently high-value, traded-sector companies. These traded-sector companies create goods or services that are then sold outside the region, bringing new dollars and tax base for public services into the region. These jobs also pay an average of about $14,600 more in wages than non-traded-sector jobs.

The Portland Business Alliance, along with the Value of Jobs Coalition, supported the study because of the connection between industrial land and good, family-wage jobs.

“In our region, there are more than 65,000 people who have good jobs at facilities on large-lot industrial sites so if we want to get people back to work, improve the region’s wages and income levels, then getting more land available for immediate development is critical,” said Isaac.

Key takeaways:

— Of the nine sites that are developable within 180 days, only five meet the business retention, expansion or recruitment criteria for a broad range of potential employers; and only one of these sites is a 50-99 acre site and only one is a 100-plus acre site.
— Sixteen sites are developable within seven to 30 months, of which only four are 50-plus acres in size and none of which are 100-plus acres.
— All of those sites will require some level of investment to make them market ready.
— Market readiness is key: 50 percent of all industrial land (within this study area) developed over the past 20 years came during two, three-year peaks.

To view the report, check out the Value of Jobs Coalition website.

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