Software defines what is possible on your smartphone or tablet. It is unlikely that any sector of the economy will be more important in the foreseeable future, yet the United States is training far fewer software engineers than are needed. It is unlikely that this trend will change soon, and thus the competition for talent is here to stay. Regions that win this battle will have a significant and sustainable economic advantage over regions that lose.
The good news for Oregon, and western states in general, is that right now we are winning that war for engineering talent. And not just winning, but dominating: Seattle, Portland, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and Denver are just a few of the cities that have an established track record of building and maintaining powerful technology franchises.
Salesforce.com was said to be considering Salt Lake City or Portland for its big expansion; despite their iconic status, cities like New York, Chicago and Boston weren't on the list. This is not an anomaly but an acknowledgment of the reality that to attract the technical creative class, firms need to locate in the western United States.
Emphasis added. Salt Lake City and Portland are the new kids on the block. They are cheaper and more attractive alternatives to the old guard still sitting at the top of the urban hierarchy. The world is flat.
Portland has a problem, a big problem. As the Innovation Economy continues to converge, more cities will be competing for talent such as software engineers. Salesforce.com won't be able to bank on Portland winning the war as new hot spots pop up around the country. Young, college-educated adults are geographic whores. Instead of relocating to hip Portland, firms will move to where the talent they want is produced.