By Metro Council President Tom Hughes
It's no secret that greater Portland needs to work hard to create more family-wage jobs. Even though our economy is booming, too many Oregon families are being left behind.
We've done a great job in greater Portland working together to diversify our economy, and increase the amount of high-wage, skilled jobs in Oregon. One of my main goals as Metro Council President has been to set the stage for more middle-class job creation, as well, so our region's prosperity can be shared by all.
That's why I've put so much effort into expanding our tourism industry, particularly through the construction of a hotel near the Oregon Convention Center. The Hyatt Regency Portland will bring 950 permanent hotel and hospitality jobs to our city – jobs that, with the labor peace agreement Metro negotiated with Hyatt, will have access to the protections and benefits offered to union workers.
Already, conventions bring hundreds of millions of dollars to our region's economy. Visitors to Portland conventions spend an average of $404 a day – and not just on the hotel, great food and world-renowned craft beer. They stay after their convention, spending a day on the slopes at Mt. Hood, exploring Oregon Wine Country, or enjoying a quiet hike in the Columbia River Gorge. They support small businesses all over our state.
It's important that we make it easy for convention attendees to take advantage of all that our great state has to offer. Hyatt is investing more than $150 million in the convention center hotel because of Oregon's growing tourism reputation, and because they think – as we do – that the adjacent hotel will attract upwards of 10 new national-level conventions to Portland every year.
Many of those convention guests will use the free MAX passes we provide all attendees to get to the hotel from the airport, and once they're done attending their event at the Oregon Convention Center – one of only three in the world to be LEED Platinum certified – they'll want to be able to go out and see more of Oregon.
Aside from those national conventions, other shows coming to Portland will be more regionally-focused. There are many Pacific Northwest conferences that rotate between cities like Spokane, Eugene, Seattle, Vancouver, Boise and Portland. Guests to those conferences are likely to drive from the Northwest to Portland, and will need a place to park while they stay at the Hyatt.
Working together with cities and the public, Metro is helping build strong communities. We've heard clearly from our community members that parking is a commodity, and that people who choose to drive should pay for the privilege to park at a rate consistent with what the market will bear.
But we also need to recognize that many people do choose to drive, and for the purposes of encouraging tourism – and mid-wage job growth – in our region and state, a car is still the best and most effective way to take in all that Oregon has to offer.
The partnership between Metro, Hyatt and the Portland Development Commission has developed a plan that respects our community values on transportation and will support our goals for a growing, inclusive regional economy. I look forward to work getting underway soon on this important, long-overdue piece of our regional economy.
If you want to learn more about the Hyatt, and how everyone benefits from growth in Oregon's tourism industry, visit the project page on the Metro website.
From Metro News
The Oregon Convention Center is owned by Metro and managed by the Metro Exposition and Recreation Commission. OCC is a LEED Platinum certified facility hosting groups from around the world and bringing millions of dollars into the Portland and Oregon economy.