Data Proves the Importance of Industrial Site Readiness

Oregon is home to traded sector industries, such as Nike, Intel and Schnitzer Steel, which provide significant employment opportunity in Portland. Portland-Metro’s Traded Sector, a 2012 Value of Jobs Report issued by Portland Business Alliance, found that on average a traded-sector worker in the Portland metropolitan area earns 42% more than a local-sector worker in the Portland metropolitan region. In an income tax dependent state such as Oregon, these high wage traded-sector jobs generate more revenue for critical services like schools, health care, and social services than local-sector jobs. Although this is great news, there is a lack of large, ready-to-develop industrial land sites in our region.

The Land-Use Planning department at Mackenzie, with sponsorship from Business Oregon, Metro, NAIOP Oregon Chapter, Port of Portland, and Portland Business Alliance, Mackenzie developed the 2011-12 and, with the additional sponsor,
the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, developed the 2011-12 and the recently published 2014 Regional Industrial Site Readiness Reports. These reports gather and analyze data regarding large industrial sites, 25+ net developable acres, within the Portland metropolitan area Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). This project is ongoing, with the plan to be updated at regular intervals in an effort to inform local, regional, and state efforts to ensure an adequate supply of development-ready large industrial sites for traded-sector job creation.

Rather than focus solely on the gross acreage of land available for development, this report focuses on the quality of said land, feasibility of development, timing, and market readiness. Sites were divided by acreage (25-49 acres, 50-99 aces, 100+ acres) and placed within three tiers:

Tier 1: Development-ready within 180 days of application submittal — projects can receive all necessary permits; sites can be served with infrastructure and zoned and annexed into the city within this time frame.

Tier 2: Likely to require 7-30 months to become development-ready.

Tier 3: Likely to require over 30 months to become development-ready.

The problem is that, at present, there is a lack of development-ready 100+ acre sites, and it is such sites that attract the large-traded sector job headquarters to our region. In 2014, only one 100+ site is Tier 1.

“When you are buying a house, you are not going to purchase the first house without seeing any others. In similar fashion, these developers want to see multiple sites before purchasing one,” Gabriella Frask, a land-use planner at Mackenzie, said. “In order to attract more traded-sector employers, industrial sites need the investment and infrastructure to be development-ready.”

As the economy continues to recover and demand increases due to business growth and investment, additional strategies to increase the continued supply of land will be needed. In order to provide the required land supply to meet projected 2035 population and employment growth within the Metro UGB, create middle income jobs to address income disparity, and achieve a sustainable tax base critical to public services, state and regional policymakers must work from an accurate and practical employment land inventory and prioritize policy actions and investments to address industrial site readiness, aggregation, infrastructure, environmental constraint mitigation, legislative actions, and industrial brownfield identification and mitigation.

Throughout the upcoming months, Mackenzie will present this information to Clackamas Business Alliance, MTAC, Metro Council, MPAC as well as various other organizations in the region in an effort to inform policy makers and public sectors of the need for investment to improve the quality of sites in order to make them developable and therefore profitable.

Interested in reading the executive summary of the 2014 Regional Industrial Site Readiness Report? Click here to download.

For additional information, contact Todd Johnson.