Silicon Forest City

City of Beaverton

Leading electronics and software companies based in and around the city of 90,000 include Intel, Tektronix, Maxim Integrated Products, Vanguard EMS, the IBM Linux Technology Center, and VeriWave. “The spillover effects of having these companies in our backyard is tremendous,” says Beaverton Economic Development Manager, Alma Flores. These businesses keep the local economy strong, contribute to local philanthropic efforts, and attract top notch talent to the area.

“In terms of labor, we have access throughout the region to very high quality employees,” Ms. Flores remarks. “We have a highly skilled work force, a very highly educated workforce.” In fact, 45% of Beaverton residents hold a Masters degree or higher.

Beaverton is also home to a cluster of medical device manufacturers and related sectors. There is also a strong food processing presence, with companies such as Reser’s Fine Foods located there. In addition, Nike’s global headquarters is located just outside the Beaverton city limits. “That is one of our greatest assets,” Ms. Flores remarks. The company’s footprint greatly impacts Beaverton, with over 2,000 Nike employees utilizing office space within the Beaverton city limits. “They hold a significant amount of real estate in the city of Beaverton.”

Clearly, Beaverton is able to support a diverse array of industries and employers – and the community is ready to welcome even more. “I firmly believe that the city of Beaverton is open for business,” Ms. Flores shares. The municipality makes tremendous effort to ensure that new and expanding businesses have all the support that they require. “Before you even submit your application to consider a site, the development costs and requirements, we will meet with you to guide you through the process. We spend that time with the client up front to make sure that they have everything they need.” No stone is left unturned. “We go so far as to have a pre-pre-application conference as well as a pre-application conference, in case they have additional questions, and then there is the application conference where everything is formalized.”

Businesses may also take advantage of the Beaverton Enterprise Zone Program, which allows a property tax abatement for eligible businesses on any new development within the Enterprise Zone for up to five years. “The Enterprise Zone is really important because the recession hit a lot of our companies very hard and having that extra tool for them is an important component of what we offer here,” Ms. Flores says.

The city works closely with newcomers to ensure that they are aware of incentives like the Beaverton Enterprise Zone Program and don’t fall through the cracks. “[We] want to be sure that they have that information because what you find in a lot of cities is that access to information is pretty much about knowing the right person and knowing what type of question to ask. We want to make it accessible to all. This is one way that the city makes itself open to doing business.”

The city’s efforts seem to be making a real difference, and the community is snapping out of the recent economic slump. “We are definitely seeing positive signs,” says Ms. Flores. For example, a recent real estate report found that occupancy rates have increased dramatically. “Buildings that sat vacant for a long time are now fully occupied with new businesses or with expansion.” Some of the businesses moving into these buildings are new to Beaverton, while others are local businesses that are enjoying substantial growth. “They outgrew their existing space in Beaverton and chose to stay in Beaverton, which is a good sign.”

Many of these available properties provide coveted flex space for their occupants. “Beaverton is known for having about 30 percent of the regional market flex space, which is a combination of office and industrial manufacturing space,” Ms. Flores explains. “Beaverton is known for incubating small to medium size companies and that flex space is extremely important as they grow.” Beaverton has a limited amount of available land, so the community is careful to use existing space wisely. “Whatever space we do have available is more in the flex industrial [space], not the large Greenfield developments. People recognize us for that; we might not have as much land, but we do know how to make good use of it.”

Beaverton also boasts a remarkably diverse stock of housing. The family-friendly city is well-known for its many attractive and well-planned neighborhoods, which include both new construction and historical homes. “We have new neighborhoods and old neighborhoods with interesting architecture and history. Just outside of our downtown we have an interesting stock of Rummer homes; that is very neat architectural history.” In fact, Beaverton is known for Robert Rummer’s unique, mid-century homes whose modern designs incorporate large floor to ceiling windows, sliding doors, flat and low-pitch roofs, radiant floor heat, and atria. There is also a substantial amount of development currently underway in Beaverton’s newer neighborhoods in order to accommodate the city’s growth. “We are seeing a lot of growth because there are a lot of jobs being created in this area,” Ms. Flores explains.

All Beaverton properties – new and old, commercial and residential – benefit from the city’s recent infrastructure upgrades. “Our infrastructure is top notch,” says Ms. Flores. From paving projects to sewer upgrades, Beaverton is invested in maintaining the infrastructure that businesses and residents need. “We are very proud of that, because that is extremely important. A lot of cities are grappling with infrastructure costs and dealing with those issues, but the city of Beaverton makes that a focal point.”

Beaverton’s supportive business policies and high employment rate combine with a long list of amenities to make the city a great place to live. “Beaverton has a very fine quality of life,” Ms. Flores says. “It has been ranked highly.” Indeed, the city has been recognized in a long list of rankings including Top 25 Suburbs for Retirement by Forbes magazine (2011), 100 Best Places to Live in America by Money Magazine (2010), Top 10 Best Places to Raise Your Kids by BusinessWeek (2009), Bicycle Friendly Community – Bronze Award by the League of American Bicyclists (Since 2008), and Top 100 Walking Cities by Prevention Magazine.

Many of these rankings recognize Beaverton’s healthy lifestyle and opportunities for outdoor recreation. The city boasts a vast amount of green space, with over 100 parks totaling 1,000 acres; in fact, a park is located within a half mile of every Beaverton home. The city also has 30 miles of hiking trails and a 25 mile network of bike paths. And, for those willing to travel a few miles, there are ski slopes to the east and beaches to west.

Beaverton schools also rank highly. “Our schools are top notch,” says Ms. Flores. “They rank very highly in terms of STEM education,” and this emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math is preparing the next generation of employees for lucrative jobs in Beaverton’s high tech sectors. The school district has also formed strong partnerships with local businesses to help prepare the city’s youth for their future careers. Beaverton schools are also nationally acclaimed for their students’ high SAT scores. In addition to a top notch local school district, Beaverton has several prestigious private schools, and some of the region’s best universities and community colleges are located within 30 miles of the city.

“We have a lot to offer both residents and employees,” Ms. Flores summarizes. “There is a lot of opportunity here and a mix in terms of types of jobs. There is a lot of diversity of housing types and employment types; it is a really comprehensive city. It has everything.” Beaverton also has an unemployment rate of 6.6%, the lowest in the region. With an increasing number of highly skilled employees pouring into the city, and a local school system producing well educated workers for the future, Beaverton is sure to be an ideal place for business for many years to come.

July 19, 2018, 9:38 AM EDT

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