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08/13/2021

Oregon awaits manufacturing rebound after strong vaccination showing

As of June, nearly half (47%) of Oregon’s 4.1 million residents were fully vaccinated and more than half (55.8%) had received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

As of June, nearly half (47%) of Oregon’s 4.1 million residents were fully vaccinated and more than half (55.8%) had received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. By late spring, the state was in the early stages of reopening as evidenced by the amount of people returning to work and the number of stores, restaurants and bars that were welcoming patrons. Many of the state’s popular attractions reopened as well, with several employing timed entry and limited capacity strategies to meet social distancing requirements.

One of the hardest-hit industries that may take longer to rebound is manufacturing, a sector that had been struggling well before COVID. It is well known that Oregon is one of the most manufacturing-dependent states in the country. As of June, Oregon had recouped only a fifth of the factory jobs it lost a year prior. To compound matters, many of the markets its largest factories serve, such as steel and transportation, continue to be affected by the shortage of key components and computer chips.

On the other hand, biotech businesses in the state are thriving and two of its top companies, Genentech and Twist Bioscience, are in the process of expanding their Oregon facilities. With the COVID-19 pandemic putting increased focus on emerging health technologies, some experts predict even greater growth in these sectors in the coming years.

[Related Content: Pharmacies at the forefront of Vermont's vaccine effort]

Business analysts say the stores that are best positioned to thrive in Oregon (and elsewhere) will be those that create immersive experiences around their brands, as well as those that offer such convenience features as curbside pickup, delivery and free returns.

City officials are in the process of launching a revitalization plan and say this, combined with lifted COVID restrictions, has already resulted in noticeable signs of recovery. They are confident that as work-from-home employees start to return to the office and hotels and restaurants continue to reopen, the retail scene will follow.

Business analysts say the stores that are best positioned to thrive in Oregon (and elsewhere) will be those that create immersive experiences around their brands, as well as those that offer such convenience features as curbside pickup, delivery and free returns.

Take the new Nike Live store in Eugene. The small-format, digitally led retail concept features stock driven by what people are ordering online, and to keep excitement up, Nike also releases new items in store each week. The Eugene store offers curbside pickup and is looking into shipping directly from this location. A strong believer in community, Nike has carved out space in the store where local running groups and athletes can gather.

[Related Content: Government efforts aim to spur growth in New Jersey]

New restaurants are opening as well. At Cedar Hills Crossing, which is known for its blend of local and national offerings, the state’s first Shake Shack opened this spring and another is expected to open in downtown Portland in early 2022.

Leaning on the value of community, many Oregon shopping centers are shifting the focus away from prompting product purchases to one that offers activities and experiences. For instance, the owners of the Bend Factory Stores, located on the city’s south side, are looking to add a firepit and horseshoes to encourage people to spend more time there.

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