Media Room


Doing Business in Oregon
October 14, 2017

In Oregon, we make things. Innovative, useful, marketable – and in some cases, delicious – things. We are proud to share our uniquely-Oregon products with the rest of the world.

Oregon and Japan have a special relationship, one that’s based on mutual respect, cultural appreciation, and strong trading partnerships.

More than 6,000 companies export from Oregon each year, and Asia is has long been a top trading partner.

As I travel across our beautiful and diverse state, I am constantly inspired by the Oregon story.

Oregon’s coastal communities export a variety of seafood products, while farmers in eastern Oregon export food products, grain, onions, potatoes, and compressed hay. Grass seed, blueberries, hazelnuts, and nursery products are some of the products also moving out of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

While Oregon’s economy holds one of the top GDP growth rates in the nation, low unemployment levels, and record export growth, I am focused on ensuring economic growth reaches all corners of the state, particularly in our rural communities.

As shared best practices and science guide us toward effective, strategies to preserve Oregon’s diverse habitats, we know our natural resource-based industries will continue to be a mainstay of the Oregon economy.
Oregon’s economy was born from our natural resource-based industries, lumber in particular. Our forests are a tried and true resource that may again be the key to economic stability for rural Oregon, expanding opportunity for communities hit hard by the decline of the natural resource economy.
We’ve made an intentional decision here in Oregon to not stand idly by as consumer demands shift and the global economy and climate changes. 

For one, wood products will continue to play a strong role in a thriving and ever-innovating Oregon economy.

New advance wood products used in large building construction, known as Mass Timber, presents a new opportunity for Oregon, an opportunity we are perfectly suited to take on. Think of it as plywood on steroids.

Our forests grow the most desirable species for use in Cross Laminated Timber and other Mass Timber products. As Mass Timber starts to catch on as a building material—it makes sense for it to emerge from our state than any other.

The story of Oregon agriculture is deeply rooted and still growing strong. Oregon is famous across the world for its fresh foods. Whether it’s potatoes, pears, blueberries, our wine, beers or ciders – our state takes great pride in the hard work our farmers have done to give Oregon its great reputation.

Oregon has more than 37,000 family farms growing more than 220 amazing products.

Oregon wheat travels from farms to tables worldwide, particularly where it becomes noodles or sponge cakes here in Japan. Our wheat is an incredibly important part of our state’s economy and is our top exported crop.

As Oregon’s wines have steadily increased in popularity in Japan, we’re also now seeing Oregon craft cider take off in Japan. There are currently eight brands of Oregon cider available in Japan, and 2 Towns Ciderhouse launched last year-- now selling in Aeon’s across Japan.

Oregon also has a long and proud history as a premier location for the fruit industry. I’m proud to say that we have thrived amidst these changes in the global economy, and Oregon continues to be the country’s fourth largest exporter of fruit products.

Just a few weeks ago, I celebrated the grand opening of St. Cousair Oregon Orchards. I’m hopeful that this is just the beginning of a lasting and mutually beneficial partnership between St. Cousair, Japan, and the people of Oregon. You’ll hear from St. Cousair later this afternoon.

This new investment is indicative of our continued commitment to providing sustainable jobs for all Oregonians and creating sustainable economic growth.

Oregon’s food and beverage industry is one of our top economic drivers. It’s important that we as a state support this industry as it blazes a path forward.

Oregon is in the business of growing and producing delicious things, and I’m committed to making sure the industry has all the tools to grow: a strong agricultural presence; a deep talent base with decades of experience; and close proximity to Portland, home to the country’s most exciting culinary scene.

One Japanese company clearly falls into the “delicious things” category. Ajinomoto Frozen Foods invested in Oregon 15 years ago with the vision of putting down roots and delivering their foods to the entire North American market. Ajinomoto now employs 320 Oregonians. Their signature product, Trader Joe’s Pot Stickers are very well known in the United States.

Oregon is also learning from Japan.

Targeting Oregon’s active market of hikers, campers, and kayakers, OFD Foods in Albany, Oregon has taken a note from the Japanese food market by developing a line of freeze-dried meals. As outdoor adventurers, Oregonians love their lightweight, convenient, and well-preserved Mountain House meals that are great on camping trips.

Oregon’s food sector and agricultural sectors accounts for almost 9 percent of the state’s total output or sales and nearly 9 percent of all jobs. These jobs include production, processing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing.

Markets in Japan and throughout Asia are critically important-- because Oregon agriculture is so productive, about 80% of Oregon products are exported to regional and international markets.

Oregon exports to Japan increased last year, while Japanese goods coming into Oregon increased as well.

While this is worth celebrating, there is more work to do. Tomorrow’s economy will challenge us to keep finding new ways to share the many talents and goods we have to offer each other—and seeing you all here I am confident that the future remains bright.

I am inspired to see leaders from Japan and Oregon who work every day to strengthen our business and trade partnership. 

I certainly hope that the business between our state and Japan continues to blossom, and that our relationships and cultural exchanges continue.

We’re thrilled to welcome a growing number of people from Japan to Portland. Portland offers a vibrant urban scene and world-renowned culinary reputation. The city is known to many as America’s epicenter for the award-winning food and exceptional beverages. After all, Oregon is proud to claim food icon James Beard as one of our native sons.

Portland’s renowned wines, craft beers, and fruit-forward ciders paired with our unique northwest cuisine drive Portland’s rich culinary landscape, and have helped make the city one of the most sought-after destinations in the U.S. 

Our tax-free shopping is also a great draw for some of Oregon’s favorite stores, including Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Poler Outdoor Stuff, Danner Boots, and KEEN Footwear.

Oregon businesses like Stumptown Coffee, Keen, and Columbia Sportswear have even opened retail outlets in Japan. And department stores have created displays and fairs featuring Oregon products.

You’ll see several of these products and Oregon businesses here today.

When we focus on developing personal relationships and cultivating mutual respect for and understanding of each other’s cultures, our economies will thrive together.

Let’s continue that growth together and bring jobs and prosperity to both Oregon and Japan.