Oregon and Portland spread business-welcome mats

In the battle against rising unemployment, Portland and the State of Oregon have each kicked off an aggressive campaign to attract new business ventures and foreign investment.

Because trade with the Pacific Rim of Asia has been historically a major source of jobs and revenue in Oregon, the Portland campaign to bring in industrial newcomers will begin with a direct pitch by a team of city businessmen and Mayor Frank Ivancie to banking interests and industrialists in Tokyo and Hong Kong.

The advantages of direct investment will be emphasized in the talks beginning March 5 in Tokyo and March 14 in Hong Kong.

A major direct investment in the Portland area in 1982 was the $75 million financing of a new banking headquarters building for PacWest Corporation, by Mitsubishi Estate-Meijiseimei Realty of America Inc.

Earlier, the Portland Development Commission had played a leading role in bringing the Northwest sales and distribution headquarters of Yamazaki, one of Japan's largest industrial-machinery manufacturers to Portland. A Yamazaki manufacturing facility is anticipated sometime in the future.

With the bulk of the state's industrial property centered here and with Portland the financial center of the state, the city area would benefit greatly from the creation of new jobs, new development, and increased diversity of the economy through new investment.

As part of the state's 1983 Economic Growth Plan, the state Economic Development Department is asking the legislature for $12.5 million to finance an expanded program promoting the state to business and financial leaders across the nation, as well as making $630,000 available for grants to areas of the state that have suffered the most severe economic hardships.

Both the state and the chamber of commerce are focusing efforts on development of trade, rather than direct investment.

Portland's move to bring direct Pacific Rim investment to the city is part of a newly established Ambassador Program, in which a group of some 83 top business leaders have agreed - as ambassadors of the city - to give of their personal time and to involve their companies in a major effort to recruit and retain businesses in the metropolitan area.

The idea came from Randolph L. Miller, head of the Moore Company, a consumer-electronics wholesaler.

Taking his idea directly to the city government, business leaders, and the Portland Development Commission, Mr. Miller obtained initial financing of $60, 000 for a nonprofit corporation, including $35,000 from the City of Portland, $ 10,000 from the development commission, and $15,000 from the US Bancorp, Oregon's largest banking institution.

Miller says of the Ambassador Program that it is ''an aggressive, roll-up-the-sleeves group'' that will make its ''resources and talents available to assist private businesses considering entering the Portland market.'' On out-of-town trips for their own firms, for instance, these executives will make it a point to contact business leaders in whatever cities they visit to bring Portland to their attention.

In December - before the Ambassador Program was set up - a group of 52 Portland businessmen visited Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau to acquaint companies doing business there with Portland's advantages as a source of supply for firms operating in Alaska. This was the city's first major approach to businessmen in another state.

Consequently, arrangements were made for a Portland-based seminar to be held Feb. 18 by procurement officials of Standard Oil of Ohio (SOHIO) to show local businessmen how to go about getting Alaska orders. This seminar was set up with the help of George Nelson, president of SOHIO.

Perhaps anticipating success in Hong Kong and Tokyo in March, the Ambassador Program is already planning a similar visit to European financiers and businessmen in Zurich in October 1984, a trip patterned after such a European visit by local businessmen to some 70 top European firms in October 1981.

The Ambassador Program also will try to bring domestic firms to Portland through visits to out-of-state business leaders and by supplying hosts to business groups from other areas of the country.

Douglas Carter, director of the the state Economic Development Department, says that while the $12.5 million requested of the legislature this year is nearly double the previous appropriation and will accelerate development activities, the amount requested will not match the funds expended by many other states ''in the competition to attract new job-producing industries.''

Reflecting the emphasis of the state group on development of domestic trade opportunities, international industrial-recruitment activities of the Economic Development Department will be allotted only a relatively small $230,000.

The state's expanded domestic-marketing program will include in 1983 an advertising campaign featuring full-page testimonials of prominent Oregon businessmen in such business-oriented publications as the Wall Street Journal.

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