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Portland: A Really Big Shoe

Why Shoe Companies Fit The Rose City.

Tracktown On The Move

Tracktown On The Move

Recruiters and head hunters define success by finding the best people. If one region produces more candidates than another, that’s where the focus belongs.

For example, college football teams scour the nation for their talent. California and Texas are two of the top states. Not all players stay home.

High school stars visit the UO facilities and fall in love. Eugene is the home they never had, and will never have again. It feels the same for everyone else when they see pictures. More than one baby boomer athlete thinks they still have eligibility in their dreams.

Recruiting works both ways in business. You either bring talent to you, or go to the talent.

Just because the Oregon Ducks have a history of California football players, no one suggests moving Autzen to LA.

Or East Texas.

But what if you are a shoe company based in Delaware? How do you meet your needs in the Blue Hen State? Look at your own shoes for the answer. They look good and feel good due to design and materials. A Delaware shoe company needs to find designers and material experts to live there.

But they won’t stay. They say it’s nothing against Delaware, but it is.

In the shoe business all eyes turn to Portland. Every place else is an outpost. That’s what happened when Nike took a turn for the better and Adidas followed.

There’s a truism in the workplace that sounds like this: “We do things a certain way at this company. If you think you’ve got a better idea, start your own company.”

With Nike riding the cutting edge of fashion and function, more than a few staffers decided to move up the ladder with their own companies, or join a struggling brand and bring them up to speed. The big difference was location.

Nothing shows off Oregon better than people who move here and stay here. Natives might take Portland for granted if they’ve never lived anywhere else, but new arrivals see an unbelievable future when they get here.

And they stay.

From shoe design to materials research to manufacturing, Portland has pull like no other place. If the sharpest knives in the shoe drawer aren’t here yet, they will be.

With all the high-end brands and people focusing on the Rose City, has the excitement peaked? Don’t count on it.

The sharp minds and high tech environment, the access to Asia, and the joy of living in Oregon just got an extra boost from the academic side. Portland State University presents a certificate program titled “Athletic and Outdoor Product Management.”

With classes like Introduction to the Athletic and Outdoor (A&O) Industry, A&O Product Planning, A&O Material Sourcing, A&O Merchandizing Management, and A&O Branding and Positioning all taught by industry professionals with extensive field experience, Portland has more draw than ever.

But that’s not all.

Here comes the University of Oregon. Who better to educate students on the shoe business than the school Nike’s Phil Knight calls home? With two programs up and running, the pin action of the shoe industry is bound to create even more opportunity.

Is the local marketplace over-crowded with Nike, Adidas America, and Columbia Sportswear? Add these brands to mix before you decide: Under Armour, On, Mizuno Running USA, Hi-Tec, Keen, Bogs Footwear, RYZ, Skora, Sseko Design, along with Anta and Li Ning from China.

Factor in the cost of relocating staff, of up-rooting families to move away from friends and family. Not all of them catch the Oregon fever. Not all Americans dream of the wooded trails in Forest Park, of hiking the Columbia Gorge, or just walking the Willamette River Loop between the Hawthorne and Steel bridges.

PSU and UofO both see the gap. Their programs will fill the needs for the shoe companies already here, and those on the move.

There’s a special feeling that comes from colleges working hand in hand with industry to benefit the rest of us. All we have to do is the find the right shoes and hit the road.

It’s that easy. Once you get the hang of it, take friends with you.












About David Gillaspie
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