The Business Climate

The Pacific Northwest is a great place to live, work and play.

With its mild climate, spirit of innovation, skilled workforce – and great coffee – the Pacific Northwest welcomes new businesses and residents. Here’s an overview of business climate issues for you and your employees.

Quality of life

Oregon and Southwest Washington are tough to beat when it comes to quality of life.

Adventurers seek out the rivers, mountains and coasts: biking, wind-surfing, kayaking, fishing, skiing, surfing and hiking destinations are easily accessible.

The region’s largest city, Portland, draws young chefs from around the country interested in creating small, farm-to-table restaurants that have received broad acclaim from the nation’s food critics. Ashland, in the southwest corner of Oregon, hosts the internationally-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Portland is home to a nationally-recognized symphony, art museum and opera company – as well the as the Portland Trail Blazers basketball franchise; the Timbers and Thorns soccer teams; and the Winterhawks hockey team. And the sporting event of the year is the annual Civil War game, between the Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State Beavers.

People love living here. It’s no surprise that Oregon receives top marks when it comes to quality of life. (CNBC Poll)

Education and labor pool

Seven public universities make up the Oregon University system, including the University of Oregon, Oregon State University and Portland State University. Seventeen community colleges are operated by locally elected boards. Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland is a nationally ranked health and research public university.

Southwest Washington is home to Washington State University Vancouver as well as Clark Community College, and the state prides itself on a number of world-renown research institutions, private and independent colleges.

Customized workforce training

Business Oregon, an agency of the State of Oregon, connects businesses with community colleges in response to requests from business and industry for specialized training. The colleges contract directly with firms, and training programs take place either on campus or at the businesses. Additionally, the Oregon Employment Department offers employee recruitment services to employers statewide.

The Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council (SWWDC) is the Workforce Investment Board (WIB) for Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties. It prepares and promotes a skilled and adaptive workforce for a thriving economy in Southwest Washington by bringing together funding, state agencies, local service providers, colleges and community organizations to provide free employment and training services to job seekers, youth and employers.

Location and transportation

Oregon and Southwest Washington both provide enormous value for businesses with transportation needs. Both states are hubs for interstate highways and railroads from Canada to Mexico and from the West Coast to the East Coast. Oregon and Southwest Washington also boast marine ports with access to the Pacific Rim, transport on the Columbia River system to U.S. and Canadian facilities, and international air connections.


Natural gas costs have fallen dramatically over the last six years and promise to be flat for years into the future. And because of abundant hydropower in the Pacific Northwest, electric rates in this part of the country are among the lowest in the nation.