|| Print ||
|Tuesday, November 24, 2009|
I launched Jobs Watch during the darkest days of the recession with the goal of identifying businesses that are strategically positioned to lead Oregon out of the recession. I’m not talking about cutting jobs to achieve higher profits in the manner of Hewlett-Packard, but rather creating jobs by smartly tapping into hot markets. It’s no easy task to grow in an economy still wobbling near a precipice, but it can be done.
So who’s doing it in Oregon?
I attempted to answer that question in our December cover story by focusing on six companies that are charging into 2010 with a profound sense of optimism. The companies I chose are Ziba Design, Smarsh, New Seasons Market, TriQuint Semiconductors, HemCon and SolarWorld. Obviously, that list is by no means complete, but it makes for a compelling lineup. The niches these companies are exploiting and even reinventing are hardly uniform (everything from natural foods to radiofrequency technology) but as businesses they share some common strengths: inspired leadership, a sense of purpose and a savvy understanding of what lies ahead.
Researching this piece was an adventure. At one point I had to prepare for back-to-back interviews with Ralph Quinsey of TriQuint and Sohrab Vossoughi of Ziba. Anyone who knows those two very different CEOs can imagine the synapse collisions going on in my brain as I tried to make sense of what they were saying. Quinsey is an engineer’s engineer and Vossughi is an artist’s artist, and while it isn’t difficult for an outsider to grasp why these leaders and their companies are successful, it is definitely a challenge to make sense of what they actually do.
One thing they do quite skillfully is to tap into strong markets. Quinsey can’t talk about it, but everyone who cares about this stuff knows that TriQuint makes chips for Apple’s iPhone. That’s a nice rocket to hitch a ride on. The same principle applies to China, now the world’s third-largest economy. Ziba has been working its magic in China for a decade, and that expertise has resulted in collaborations with Li Ning, Lenovo and other businesses in China.
The other companies that made our “now hiring” short list also have powerful niches, whether it’s solar panels, natural foods, e-mail or advanced wound care. The same holds true for the nine companies we list in a sidebar that accompanies the story: Jive, Laika, Oregon Iron Works, Slayden Construction, Schnitzer Steel, Stancorp, Tripwire, U.S. Bank and Wieden+Kennedy. Scrolling through that list is a good way to ease one’s sense of doom about the prospects for true economic recovery in Oregon.
But the search is far from over. My central questions today are the same as they were when I launched Jobs Watch. Who's hot and hiring? Who needs to be added to the list? And who needs to be removed?
What do you think?
|A Complex Portrait: Immigration, Jobs and the Economy|
|Woman of Steel|
|Kill the Meeting|
|Price of already-built homes in Seattle area drops|
|Apple hits record-high value|
|Fed's ability to regulate questioned|
|Budweiser to move away from Clydesdales|
|Mergers lucrative for departing CEOs, but not necessarily shareholders|
|Senators ask, but get no real answers regarding safety from air bag executives|
|Senate investigation says Wall Street misused commodities businesses|
Is your business ready to join us in the call for action? This opening panel includes Oregon businesses who will discuss why they signed the Oregon Climate Declaration, the investments they are making to reduce carbon emissions, and how their actions are affecting their companies.
Get ready for two days of special events produced with the EPA, Portland Timbers and ISOS before and after the GoGreen Conference on October 16.
Plenty of employers seem “dazed and confused” after the recent vote to legalize marijuana. In light of Measure 91 passing, what are some issues for private-sector Oregon employers to consider?
Rotary’s Oregon Ethics in Business aims to raise consciousness about business ethics by honoring exceptional companies.
Barran Liebman’s annual employment law seminar is an industry classic.
Is my drug-free workplace policy up in smoke?
More than 400 "Change Makers" will gather to invest in a socially sustainable community.