First Advisor

Thomas W. Harvey

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Geography




High technology industries -- Location -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, ix, 120 p.)


This thesis aims to investigate local conditions of high-tech industry development in the Portland/Vancouver CMSA. To do so, the research proceeds in four major stages. First, it is analyzed how historical factors contributed to the rise of high-tech industries in the CMSA. The second part consists of mapping the distribution pattern of hightech establishments. The U.S. Bureau of Census' County Business Patterns statistics are used to calculate the number of high-tech establishments and employees by branch (SIC code) and county; two high-tech directories help to identify the exact firm locations. Thirdly, an explanatory set of locational factors is established, based on interviews with various regional and local economic development agencies and on a review of relevant economic theories. Finally, the impact of state and local policies on high-tech firm locational decisions is elaborated. The development of high-tech industries in the Portland/Vancouver CMSA can be divided up into three phases. While the first phase (1945 to 1974) is mainly distinguished by local entrepreneurship, the second phase (1975 to 1984) is characterized by an in-migration of high-tech firms headquartered outside the Pacific Northwest. Beginning in 1985 (phase III), Japanese high-tech investment became the most significant growth factor. High-tech establishments are not evenly distributed over the metropolitan area, but their locations are rather marked by distinctive clusters. Recent high-tech industry development is largely a suburban phenomenon, avoiding inner-city areas and the CMSA's eastside with its traditional metalworking industry base. Most Californian and foreign-owned high-tech companies have established only standardized branch production and assembly facilities in the Portland/Vancouver CMSA to take advantage of low business costs. Although the high quality of life enables high-tech firms to recruit easily scientific, engineering, and technical personnel to the CMSA, the majority of companies has not yet set up R&D centers. Main reason is the missing link to a prominent research university nearby. Therefore, state and local policies have shifted their focus from attracting foreign branch plants to improving the quality of educational institutions.


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