Mara Zepeda, Co-Founder and CEO, Switchboard
Making our industries and economy more inclusive is vital to the long-term economic success of Portland companies and communities. The technology sector is a key example. National job vacancies in software and technology jobs are estimated to grow to 1.4 million by 2020 if the industry continues to hire only from a narrow portion of the workforce. To have a competitive current and future workforce, the sector must address disparities in education, wealth, income and employment and reflect global diversity.
If blacks, Hispanics and other minorities had the same income distribution as whites, the nation’s GDP would have been 14 percent greater in 2012 – $2.1 trillion. Fostering a more equitable Portland will attract an increasingly diverse workforce who will see the city as a place where they can succeed.
By focusing on clusters we can:
- Deploy limited resources in a strategic and catalytic fashion.
- Develop a deep understanding of factors influencing competitiveness.
- Interact with groups of firms rather than conduct isolated transactions.
- Facilitate industry-led innovation and interventions.
- Foster the alignment of resources among regional and state partners.
Objectives for organizing Portland clusters:
- Convene critical players in cluster eco-system.
- Develop detailed market analyses for each cluster defining actual market opportunities.
- Develop and implement industry-driven action plans
- Create self-sustaining momentum within clusters
Prosper Portland focuses staff and resources on the following industry clusters:
We focus resources on these clusters because:
- They are drivers of our economy. Traded sector clusters sell goods outside the region, bringing new money into Portland.
- The region hosts a concentration of talent or firms.
- The industry is high growth.
- Industry firms which locate in Portland have a competitive advantage over firms in other cities.
- They provide a significant number of quality jobs.