As 2016 comes to a close, the Business Tribune checked in with local businesses and organizations about how the year went for them in terms of growth, achievement and external economic issues.
As 2016 comes to a close, the Business Tribune checked in with local businesses and organizations about how the year went for them in terms of growth, achievement and external economic issues.
Here we share what they said, and their outlooks for the New Year.
HQ: 250 Church St. S.E., Ste. 100
CEO: Todd Davidson
The Oregon Tourism Commission, doing business as Travel Oregon, is a semi-independent agency created by the Oregon Legislature in 2003 to enhance Oregonians' quality of life by strengthening economic impacts of the state's $10.8 billion tourism industry.
The Travel Oregon staff develops and implements a biennial strategic marketing plan which includes advertising and marketing, publication development, cooperative promotions, consumer fulfillment, public relations, international marketing, tourism product development, State Welcome Centers, research, and industry relations. Travel Oregon cooperates extensively with local communities, industry associations, government agencies, and private businesses in the implementation of its strategic plan.
A nine-member board appointed by the Governor, the Oregon Tourism Commission governs the Travel Oregon staff and programs. A 1.8 percent statewide transient lodging tax funds the agency.
Linea Gagliano, director of global communications with Travel Oregon, spoke with the Business Tribune:
What was Travel Oregon's biggest area of growth in 2016 in Portland?
"Travel and tourism continues to hold great economic and job growth potential in Oregon. In a report from the state's employment department, issued in January 2016, 'Oregon's job growth over the last year has been really strong. Payroll employment rose by 59,600 jobs, or 3.4 percent, between January 2015 and January 2016. During this period, the industries seeing the fastest growth and adding the most jobs were professional and business services (+11,000 jobs, 4.9 percent), health care and social assistance (+8,800 jobs, 4.0 percent), leisure and hospitality (+8,700 jobs, 4.6 percent), and construction (+4,100 jobs, 5.0 percent).'
"And that growth has continued. While we don't have final numbers for 2016 yet, indicators are strong for another record-breaking year for economic impact and increased jobs numbers within the travel and tourism industry.
Travel and tourism is a vital economic driver and job creator for Oregon. Last year, the positive impact of travel and tourism reached an all-time record: In 2015, travelers generated $10.8 billion for the state's economy, directly employing more than 105,000 Oregonians (Dean Runyan Associates Oregon Travel Impacts Study, 2015).
In the same report by Dean Runyan, the numbers in Greater Portland reflect the increased strength of the industry and its importance in the region's economic health and diversity. In 2015, visitors spent more than $4.68 billion in the Greater Portland region, directly employing more than 32,000 people with earnings upward of $1.125 billion.
"According to Longwoods International, the Greater Portland region boasted 10.6 million overnight trips, 32 percent of the statewide number of 33.1 million overnight trips.
According to STR, Inc., the Greater Portland region saw an increase of 7.5 percent in lodging room revenue for the year (as of October 2016) over 2015. This is well above the national average increase of 4.6 percent."
What was your greatest achievement in Portland in 2016?
"We have seen record-breaking years for our marketing endeavors, records that we thought would be hard to break following on the heels of our record-shattering 7 Wonders of Oregon campaign. But the newest campaign exceeded those numbers achieved during the 7 Wonders campaign. Our "You Might Like Oregon" campaign, facilitated an increase of consumer inquiries and website traffic to TravelOregon.com up 12 percent with more than 3 million unique visitors to the site.
"Additionally, Travel Oregon conducted nearly two dozen Town Halls throughout the state where we were able to solicit feedback from a broad range of our industry partners, as we work to flesh out our Strategic Plan for 2017-18. These face-to-face meetings provided us with incredibly valuable input from our industry partners and several other sectors that are all impacted by travel and tourism."
What external economic issues affected your business during the year?
"The Oregon legislature took notice of the importance of the travel and tourism industry when they approved HB4146 earlier this year. This vote of confidence from our state's policy makers underscores the value our industry brings to the state's economy. Our legislators recognized that the return on investment for this industry is just too good to not invest more. In fact, a 2014 Longwoods Ad accountability study showed that for every $1 we invest in our marketing efforts, we see a $237 return.
"The bill's chief sponsor, Representative Nancy Nathanson, stated in her speech on the House floor, "This bill increases resources for the Oregon Tourism Commission to invest in furthering the state's tourism industry, to promote all of Oregon. And we know that investing in tourism pays off, big time. Since the state lodging tax passed in 2003, there's been an 84 percent increase in local taxes from visitor activity. Every $1 invested in Travel Oregon's advertising campaigns generates $11 in state and local tax revenue. Since Travel Oregon started doing statewide marketing, there has been significant growth in out-of-state and international visitors. For example: international visitation to Oregon in 2014 increased 9 percent over 2013."
What is your economic outlook for 2017?
"We expect growth in this industry to continue to increase with as many as 15 new hotel properties slated to be built within Portland between now and 2019, helping to meet the lodging demand of the visitors eager to make Oregon their next vacation destination.
"We also expect an increase in visitation during the winter season, with the launch of the OregonWeatherCompass.com: a tool that will help Oregonians and visitors find different weather patterns throughout the state while inspiring them to get out and enjoy activities related to that weather outlook. We believe this will help enhance economic input for communities throughout the state during a typically slower tourism season."
What plans do you have for Travel Oregon's growth in 2017?
"Travel Oregon continues to focus on plans and strategies that positively increase economies and job numbers throughout the state while also improving the lives of all Oregonians through tourism. With robust programs like the Rural Tourism Studios and a marketing plan that focuses on visitation during the shoulder seasons, Travel Oregon strives to bring positive economic impact and enhanced livability to every corner of the state."
HQ: 4804 S.E. Woodstock Blvd.
CEO: Jon Blumenauer
The Joinery began as a furniture refurbishing and repair business in 1982. Today it employs a team of highly skilled and dedicated people to design, build and sell furniture. They use time-honored joinery techniques to create masterful pieces in a variety of modern and traditional designs. The Portland woodshop balances modern technology with traditional hand craftsmanship.
Jon Blumenauer, CEO of The Joinery, spoke with the Business Tribune:
"The Joinery's most exciting area of growth in 2016 was in our commercial business. We deepened our partnerships with Portland architecture firms and designers and built fantastic projects for regional companies, including Stoel Rives, Geffen Mesher, the Seattle Seahawks and several Oregon wineries. A huge highlight for us was the 15 conference tables we built for the new Stoel Rives office space in downtown Portland. The tables were made from Oregon White Oak, and we worked with a number of Portland-area partners in the process.
"In terms of external economic factors, the growth taking place in the Portland area has been helpful, both in terms of people and businesses moving here, as well as Portland becoming a tourist destination. It remains to be seen how the incoming administration will impact the national economy in the coming year, but we feel that the trends we are seeing in terms of a vibrant and growing local economy will continue.
"We continue to find that our customers make very thoughtful choices about their purchases. Connection really matters to them — they care about how something is made, and the connection to our local community and environment. As the population continues to grow in the Portland region, people are moving into smaller living spaces and seeking these opportunities for connection. This is really exciting for us, since it's what our business is all about. So in addition to carrying our success forward in the commercial sector in 2017, we will continue to focus on our core business of residential furniture. We have introduced several new pieces specifically for these smaller, urban residences that are functional and versatile, as well as beautiful."
HQ: Park Avenue West, 760 S.W. 9th Ave., Ste. 2250
CEO and president: Vanessa Sturgeon
TMT Development Company, Inc. was founded by Thomas P. Moyer. Originally in the movie theater business, Moyer began focusing on real estate development in the late 1980s. In 1988 TMT Development and the Hillman Group partnered to develop the 1000 Broadway Building, a 24-story office building located in the heart of downtown Portland located just a few blocks from Pioneer Square and across the street from the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, the building opened in 1991 and today is home Hart Wagner, LLP, Travel Portland, and Springbrook Software. After its development, Hillman Group later sold their interest in the building to TMT Development, making it the first office tower TMT both owned and operated.
The Fox Tower was the next major development project from TMT Development, breaking ground in 1998 and opening in 2000. The 27-story Fox Tower was designed by TVA Architects and was named after the Fox Theater, which formerly occupied the site. At the time of its construction, the Fox Tower's underground parking structure was the deepest in Portland.
Park Avenue West, begun before the Great Recession, was finished earlier this year. Park Avenue West was designed by TVA Architects and constructed by Hoffman Construction.
In 2002, Moyer's granddaughter, Vanessa Sturgeon, joined the company as President, focused on guiding the company's growth and expansion from one generation to the next.
Refinement Wagner, director of marketing and executive assistant with TMT, spoke with the Business Tribune:
What was TMT's biggest growth area of 2016 in Portland?
"2016 brought a boom in multi-family housing that helped bring thousands of much needed apartment units online."
What was your greatest achievement in Portland in 2016?
"Opening the Park Avenue West Tower!"
What external economic issues affected your business during 2016?
"Measure 97, or more specifically the fear that it may pass, led many firms to hold off on future plans for growth in the market. Unfortunately, our local economy was stifled a bit by the threat of this huge tax burden."
What is your local economic outlook for 2017?
"2017 should be similar to 2016. The market is still hot, though people are beginning to approach things with a bit more caution....which is prudent."
What plans do you have for TMT's growth in 2017?
"We expect the Park Avenue West Apartments to lease up over the course of the first half of the year."
Venerable Group Properties
HQ: 70 N.W. Couch St., Ste. 207
President and broker: Craig Kelly
Founded in 1991, Venerable Group identifies investment opportunities, brokers acquisitions, directs redevelopment, leases space, manages and maintains properties and periodically sells finished products. Its four brokers are experts in historic preservation with nearly 60 years of combined experience, specializing in historic rehabilitation, adaptive reuse, new development, property management, building maintenance, tenant and owner representation for leasing office, retail warehouse and industrial spaces, and historic preservation consulting.
Craig Kelly, broker and president of Venerable Group, spoke with the Business Tribune:
"In 2016 we acquired two properties in a rapidly changing area that we are excited about upgrading. We completed an extensive upgrade on one property and started two other upgrades that will benefit all parties in the future.
"By leasing 25,000 square feet to The Portland Clinic we were able to acquire and plan a Venerable redevelopment of the Rheinlander property along Northeast 50th and Sandy Boulevard.
"The main external economic issue that affected our business this year was that the cost of construction continues to rise well above inflation.
"We're cautiously optimistic that we'll continue to see growth in 2017. We'll be completing a couple of modest upgrades on existing properties and starting construction of a new 33,000 square feet medical office building on Der Rheinlander site."
Oregon Convention Center
HQ: 777 N.E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Interim Executive Director: Matt Pizzuti
As the largest venue in the Pacific Northwest, the Oregon Convention Center provides outstanding experiences by embracing the local flavor and innovative approaches. The Oregon Convention Center serves as a catalyst for Oregon's economy. In addition to the thousands of jobs supported by the facility, consumer spending totals more than $500 million each year as a result of the convention center's business. The Oregon Convention Center is owned and operated by Metro and managed through the Metropolitan Exposition Recreation Commission. Metro, the Portland area's regional government, works with communities, businesses and residents to chart a wise course for the future while protecting the things that people love about this place.
Matt Pizzuti, interim executive director of the OCC, spoke with the Business Tribune:
"OCC experienced growth in economic impact, enterprise revenue and number of conventions hosted. Our economic impact report is coming out soon and will show that OCC's efforts are responsible for over 7,000 jobs in the region, over $700 million in direct and indirect spending and $34 million in taxes. Due to hosting 50 conventions, enterprise revenue topped $30 million — both an all-time high."
Their greatest achievement of 2016 was hosting a very successful and entertaining IAAF Indoor World Track and Field Championships with over 500 athletes competing and 40,000 spectators enjoying an international sporting event.
"Portland is a hot destination for meetings and travel. The stronger economy and many of the events that were booked in advance performing above expectations for attendance and revenues are factors that created such a good year."
As for 2017, the OCC expects it to be "still a strong year, not quite the record-setter that 2016 was. OCC has a few less conventions on the books that will affect overall performance.
"OCC continues to invest in a long-term approach to managing this beautiful asset. Improvements that are coming soon will include improved cellular communications, reduced energy consumption with completed lighting and solar projects coming online and facility modifications to prepare for the convention center hotel opening in 2019."
Harsch Investment Properties
HQ: 1121 S.W. Salmon St.
President: Jordan D. Schnitzer
Harold Schnitzer founded Harsch Investment Properties more than 65 years ago when he converted an old warehouse into an office building. Today, his son Jordan serves as president of the company, directing its long-term strategy. Harsch cultivates diverse, well-located properties positioned for long-term growth. Its holdings include more than 24 million square feet of real estate. It owns and operates more than 100 properties in Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. Its portfolio includes a wealth of office, multi-tenant industrial, multi-family and retail commercial properties. In seven regional offices, over 265 real estate professionals work in their markets and close to their customers.
Jordan Schnitzer, president of Harsch Investment, spoke with the Business Tribune:
"Our big growth area was the continued repositioning of Parkside, the 735,000 square foot business park we bought in Tigard in December of 2015. We have increased occupancy from 83 percent to 96 percent and repositioned a number of tenants for their long-term growth.
"In addition to solid, steady leasing in all six states we operate in, our biggest achievement might have been with the art exhibition of the Andy Warhol Prints: From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation at the Portland Art Museum which has attracted over 85,000 people and 20,000 school children filling up every docent tour the museum had available.
"We were affected by the continued downward pressure on cap rates. Domestic and international investors keep looking to the United States to buy real estate, since it is one of the safest investments in the world.
"Our local economic outlook for 2017 is very strong. There should be good absorption in all product types in the Portland metropolitan area. But look out for 2018 and 2019 because, at some point, everything that has gone up has to settle back down.
"Including several acquisitions in Portland, our company has acquired 2,500,000 square feet of industrial buildings in the last 24 months. In 2017, we have almost $100 million dollars of industrial buildings under construction in several of the six regions we operate in and we are starting construction in 2017 on 160,000 square feet of creative office in the Central Eastside along Southeast Alder Street. We are very excited about these office buildings, to meet the continued demand for creative office space in the Central Eastside.
"We are working with Ankrom Moisan Architects on a 280-unit apartment project along Southwest 18th Avenue and Alder Street across from Providence Park, and with Works Partnership Architecture on a 22-story office building on our Reserve property, the former site of the Federal Reserve on a block bounded by Northwest 9th and 10th Avenues and Southwest Oak and Stark Streets in downtown Portland."
HQ: 14200 S.E. 98th Ct., Clackamas
President: Jed Alldredge
Legend Solar is a leading solar power provider and installer west of the Rocky Mountains. With advances in technology and the growth of the industry, as well as with state and federal incentives and innovative financing programs, solar is not only a much more affordable energy option, it actually pays for itself through savings and the additional income the system will generate.
Legend Solar is the West's fastest-growing provider of solar power for businesses and homes. The company has been expanding throughout Oregon, Utah and Nevada, with future expansion plans for Arizona, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
Brett Lee, regional sales manager, spoke with the Business Tribune:
"Despite being known for its rainy days, Portland was a natural choice for Utah-based Legend Solar's 2016 expansion. Portland's residential and commercial solar customers have embraced and harnessed those 144 days of sunlight in this Pacific Northwest city.
"Opening a Clackamas office in May 2016, Legend Solar has hired 18 employees, all local to the area, to meet the needs of their Portland-metro customer base. With $1.37 million in sales in just seven months, Legend Solar has received a very sunny welcome.
"In October we announced a three-year sponsorship of the Portland Trail Blazers' Energy Green Game, proudly supporting the team's efforts to protect the planet and community, ensuring a brighter future for generations to come.
"We will expand our territory beyond the Portland-metro area next year, ultimately planning on installing two megawatts of power in the next year. 2017 will kick off with expansion into another Oregon market in January and further expansion of Legend Solar's commercial division. Meeting those immediate demands, we will bring on an additional six experienced solar consultants, five appointment setters and begin hiring another installation crew all during the first quarter of 2017.
"We have also announced plans to expand the company southward, opening three additional offices by the end of the summer."
Port of Portland
HQ: 7200 N.E. Airport Way
Executive Director: Bill Wyatt
The Port of Portland is the port district responsible for overseeing Portland International Airport, general aviation, and marine activities in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area.
Bill Wyatt, executive director of the Port of Portland, spoke with the Business Tribune:
"The airport is experiencing significant growth. We added 20 new domestic flights, new international nonstop service to London and new air cargo service to Asia. We'll wrap up the year having served more than 18 million passengers at PDX and are on course to reach 19 million passengers next year. PDX was also ranked America's Best Airport for the 4th year in a row in a Travel + Leisure Magazine reader poll. JD Power ranked PDX "Highest in Customer Satisfaction for Large Airports" in 2015 and 2016. And in August, we won Trip Advisor's Traveler's Choice Award for Best Large Airport in the U.S.
"That being said, the Port's other business lines showed positive results as well. The Port's five business parks are continuing to thrive and provide access to thousands of family wage jobs. Subaru just completed a 600,000 square foot distribution facility in Gresham, a $60 million investment. Also in Gresham, land sales to Trammell Crow Company and Specht Development will bring up to six buildings totaling more than 1.2 million square feet for speculative development. In April, the Commission approved a 14-acre, 50-year lease with Capstone Partners to develop Phase III of the PDX Logistics Center. At more than one million square feet, the PDX Logistics Center will have a total of five state-of-the-art buildings. Several tenants have already been secured.
"On the marine side, autos (both imports and exports) were up 14 percent. In the first 10 months of 2016, we handled more than 230,000 autos — that's imports and exports — over our docks and we have a chance of breaking 300,000 units this year, which is something we haven't seen since 2008. For fiscal year 2015-16, soda ash topped 3 million metric tons, a 10 percent increase over last year. Grain was up 7 percent. Our tenant, Columbia Export Terminal, has been one of the biggest gainers with volumes up over 35 percent. The Columbia River is still the No. 1 wheat export gateway in the U.S. and our port as well as others along the Columbia River are preparing for increased volumes of all types of bulks.
"We are continuing to maintain PDX's reputation as an award-winning, world-class airport. We've achieved this through our national awards (based on customer satisfaction), the addition of freighter service on Cathay Pacific Cargo between Portland and Hong Kong, the capacity additions to our European gateways as seen with more days of service per week from Condor and Icelandair and a larger aircraft being used by Delta, new service to 16 domestic markets, and the commencement of a project to add six new gates to accommodate this enormous growth.
"On the positive side, local GDP is directly linked to passenger growth at PDX. When business is good, there is a lot more business travel. On the negative side, I would say the continuing volatility of the container shipping industry. While local issues between labor and the operator of Terminal 6 play a role, so do the global dynamics at play. The international shipping line industry is struggling from overcapacity, low freight rates and significant reshuffling of alliances affecting vessel deployments and routing decisions.
"We anticipate serving 19 million passengers at PDX (in 2017). On the marine side, autos continue to be a bright spot. Volumes are forecasted to increase 16 percent overall, led by more than one-third increase in Hondas and upwards of 25 percent increase in Ford exports; Toyota also up slightly; breakbulk handled at Terminal 2 is projected to be up 20 percent next year; mineral bulks handled at Terminal 5 will be slightly down as will grain, which is also handled at Terminal 5. New lots at our Troutdale Reynolds Industrial Park are coming available for sale. The 700-acre brownfield redevelopment is one of the largest in the state and features a balance of industrial and natural resource areas.
"We will see a lot of change and growth at the airport. Known as PDXNext, this suite of major airport improvement projects will involve new shops and restaurants, security upgrades, terminal balancing, airline relocations and more. As soon as this summer, we will begin construction on the Concourse E extension, a project that will extend Concourse E by about 750 feet, and construct six new gates. We are building the concourse extension in an effort to balance the number of passengers using the north and south sides of the airport in order to increase the efficiency of airport operations, prolong the longevity of existing terminal facilities, and increase the level of service for passengers. Planning, design and construction activities for many of the PDXNext projects will be underway until at least 2020 and represent more than a $248 million investment in the airport."
HQ: 888 S.W. Fifth Ave., Ste. 1200
CEO: James Harold Rudd
This privately-owned investment advisory firm has served individuals, families and institutions for more than 40 years. It manages $4.3 billion as of this December, in IRAs, trusts, foundations, endowments, corporate retirement and pension plans.
Steve Holwerda, principal and COO, spoke with the Business Tribune:
"We finished the year with a record number of clients and assets under management. Our company now has $4.46 billion under management and our division, West Bearing Investments, reached $100 million in assets this year. Together, we serve 760 clients. Our success is an indicator of a healthy business climate in the Portland region. Clients searching for professional wealth management services continues to grow, which often means they have seen their own growth and success in business.
"Mergers and acquisitions in the private sector create liquidity events for owners who then turn to investment firms to manage their money. Despite a good year, we did see a lull in M&A activity at the beginning of 2016 compared to 2015, but that has since picked up. Through ongoing discussions with prospects and clients, we believe this activity will continue into 2017. Our hunch is that, following the heels of 2015, owners who sold businesses may have been cautious to invest. Looking toward 2017, they may be more confident in putting their liquid assets into the markets.
"Investment returns matter to individuals and institutions. This past year has been a rollercoaster ride and as 2016 draws to a close, we are seeing returns that are exceeding expectations. We think the economy is going to remain healthy in 2017 in the Portland area. Interest rates will rise modestly higher and continue to provide momentum for a decent year for many sectors. Anticipated changes to tax policy will also add a tailwind to market growth."
Ankrom Moisan Architects
HQ: 38 N.W. Davis St. #300
President: Dave Heater
Architects Stewart Ankrom and Tom Moisan formed Ankrom Moisan in 1983 to provide integrated architectural, interior design and urban design services to clients. The mission of Ankrom Moisan is to create places where people and communities thrive. Located just north of downtown Portland, AMA completed the first conversion of a warehouse to housing and played a dominant role in the development of the Pearl District. Ankrom Moisan has designed more than 2,132 housing units and 22 projects, including restaurants, offices, retail and housing.
The national firm has more than 350 staff members and offices in Portland, Seattle and San Francisco. Its portfolio includes award-winning mixed-use housing, condominiums, apartments, affordable housing, senior housing, student housing, healthcare, offices, hospitality and retail. Much of its work is in urban environments and many projects include a mix of uses.
Liz Coleman, associate and marketing manager with AMA:
"Ankrom Moisan saw growth across our primary business sectors — mixed-use, healthcare, student housing, affordable housing, workplace, hospitality, and senior living communities — though the strongest growth was seen in our healthcare work, followed by workplace, senior living, and mixed-use housing.
"Ankrom Moisan's greatest achievement this year has been watching our design of our new headquarters in Old Town Chinatown come to life. We moved our 250-person Portland team into our new home at the start of December, and we are extremely proud to have established this creative workplace in Portland's urban core.
"It was our first full calendar year with Dave Heater as President and Tom Moisan as Chairman, and the transition has been seamless. We also expanded into San Francisco by acquiring Forum Design, and moved our 100-person Seattle office into an incredible new office near Pike Place Market. We even launched an independent hospitality design collaborative, The Society.
"Like many firms in the Pacific Northwest, we have seen growth due to a steady regional increase in job creation, especially in the tech and medical research industries. This has led to a flood of population growth in the Portland area, a housing shortage, and rising rents. All of this has strengthened our clients' resolve to develop housing of all types across our region.
"We have witnessed some caution from the development community due to uncertainty around legislation related to affordable housing, as well as general tax and bond measures, but we do not anticipate this changing our clients' development plans in the long run.
"AMA has experienced significant growth over the past few years. We are anticipating a good year in 2017 with moderate growth over 2016.
"With 2016 being busy and growth-focused for Ankrom Moisan, we believe 2017 will be a year spent on strengthening and building the relationships we have worked so hard to develop over our firm's 33 years in business. We will be here helping our clients succeed in developing dynamic, human-focused projects that help people and communities thrive."