Bryan Fix, head of human resources at SolarWorld, ramped up hiring in 2008 for the country’s largest solar manufacturing plant in Hillsboro. He recruits from around the country, particularly Midwesterners with high-volume automation experience. He’s moved about 15% of hires from outside the state. Perhaps 10% of the company’s engineers are foreign, mostly Europeans brought in to seed the plant with their advanced solar knowledge. “For long-term livability [Oregon] does pretty well,” says Fix. “It’s usually a big selling point.”
Assuming employers like SolarWorld keep hiring, Oregon’s natural beauty, recreation, quality of life and other pluses will remain a lure to prospective newcomers from across the world as the economy grows ever more global.
Looking ahead to the next decade, Jurjevich points to Census forecasts that U.S. population growth will continue to outpace other industrialized nations and that 60% of the population will live in the South and the West by 2030.
“Combining those two things together,” he says, “I think it’s a pretty safe assumption that the Oregon population is going to continue to grow into the near future.”
Brandon Sawyer is the research editor for Oregon Business. He can be reached at brandons(at)oregonbusiness.com.