From the Editor: Bikes, ports and pot

From the Editor: Bikes, ports and pot

The process of selecting articles for each issue of Oregon Business is more art than science. Each issue has an editorial theme, but within that framework, latitude is encouraged. At first glance, the connection between this month’s feature stories — briefly noted in the above headline — seems elusive. A closer look reveals a few commonalities beyond April’s trade and transportation focus.

First, as always, we selected a story mix reflecting the state’s blend of traditional and up-and-coming business sectors. The city of Portland is defined both by its historic port and its pioneering approach to two-wheeled transportation. Meanwhile, Oregon’s new medical marijuana registry marks another step toward the creation of a legitimate pot industry, with investors and businesses poised to capitalize on a new cash crop.

Transition is another recurring theme. As reporter Lee van der Voo documents in her story about the Port of Portland, the latter is at a crossroads, confronting turmoil on the docks and an economy that is increasingly focused on livability, even as onshoring and rising demand in Asia boost traditional Oregon exports.

Portland’s bike economy is also in flux, reports Courtney Sherwood in her article, “Business Cycles.” As the private sector — law firms, tech companies, real estate investors — drives a new wave of bike-oriented businesses, public sector funding for cycling infrastructure has plateaued, rendering uncertain the next stage in Portland’s expanding cycling economy.

It goes without saying that the legal marijuana industry is at a critical juncture. Although the 2014 Oregon legislature did not refer legalization to the ballot, voters may still see a signature-driven initiative this November. And as writer Joshua Hunt reports, the pot industry will likely unfold very differently in urban and rural parts of the state.

Not to belabor the similarities, but here are two final thoughts. Our story lineup this month underscores the role of cultural trends — growing acceptance of marijuana, lifestyle as a business-development tool — in fueling job growth and creating new markets for Oregon products and services.

Our April features also showcase the prominence of the private sector in shaping local policies and practices. Business, more than ever, has become a driver of change, leaving an indelible imprint on sectors as disparate as bikes, ports and pot.