Brief Interview

The Milken Institute, a Santa Monica-based think tank, recently published a study in which the Portland area ranked No. 2 on a list of the nation’s top 10 fastest-growing technology centers. Seattle.internet.com caught up with Perry Wong, who worked on the report, to find out why Portland and Eugene ranked so high, how Seattle fits into the picture and what’s the deal with Brownsville, Texas taking the top spot?

seattle.internet.com: How have internet companies contributed to Portland
and Eugene’s placements as fastest-growing technology centers?

Perry Wong: First of all, it is not just “internet companies”. It is more a
cluster of internet technologies and software engineering. These industries tend to specialize on software producing and servicing. They tend to be smaller or nimbler than the “big service houses” or high-end manufacturing shops. It is relative easy to set up a company in a rather “remote” (relatively speaking)
regions such as Portland and Eugene-Springfield. Since 1995, these types of companies experienced the fastest growth, both in terms of outputs and employment.

seattle.internet.com:Is there a reason Seattle didn’t make the list? How do
you see the growth trends in the Seattle area?

Perry Wong: The reason Seattle did not make the list is because the
Metropolitan area’s growth slowed somewhat comparing to other smaller,
higher growth region. Boeing, affected by the 1998-1999 Asian crisis, is a
major factor, too. However, if we look at overall ranking, which growth factor is one of the
measuring criteria, Seattle ranks among the top-15 in the nation. The
technology base is there. The city will remain one of the most important
pacific coast cities years to come. Increasing Asian technology trades,
particular with China’s entrance to WTO, the growth potential can only be
intensified.

seattle.internet.com: What is unique about Brownsville, Texas? Is there
anything the Pacific Northwest market can learn from them?

Perry Wong:It’s Telecom!Telecom!Telecom, with a big “tech” in front of it.
I guess the real lesson should be that the governments (both at state and
local levels) worked hard to re-establish TX industry after the oil-bust. In
some sense, both AZ and TX worked hard and proactively to attract tech
companies moving their ways at a very early stage. But with such rapid
advancement in high-tech, I don’t know if there is a quick way to dub that
strategy.

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