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Start-Up Statistics: Portland vs. Seattle

Scales of Justice

While Portland and Seattle are often considered by non-residents to be fairly similar – same rainy weather, the same love of coffee and beer and farm-to-table cuisine, same commitment to the environment and affection for technology – people in the Pacific Northwest understand just how dissimilar they can be. Which city would be a better choice for someone looking to start a new business?

Why Portland is Great for Start-Ups

Portland regularly receives acclaim for being one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world. Home to several colleges and universities, its major industries are real estate, technology, and construction, and major employers include Nike, Columbia Sportswear, and Intel. From a start-up standpoint, a lower cost of living and less competition for skilled employees with technology, engineering, and other professional backgrounds are very attractive. There’s also what has been described as an “intensely independent, do-it-yourself” spirit in Portland that fits well with entrepreneurs.

The state of Oregon was ranked 25th in the nation for innovation and entrepreneurship by the US Chamber of Commerce, but was actually 13th in the nation for its “business birthrate.” There are many federally and locally funded options for start-ups to pursue in the state and in the Portland metro region, including incubator programs like TIE-Oregon, the Portland State University Business Accelerator, Portland Seed Fund, and the Portland Incubator Experiment.

Why Seattle is a Start-Up Contender

Seattle is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, and with good reason: it’s an area rich in natural beauty as well as opportunity. The city is home to several universities and its major industries are clean energy, technology, and aerospace, and major employers include Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks. Some of the area’s major success stories actively encourage entrepreneurial growth. Amazon offers $50,000 and mentorship each year to the area’s best gaming, computing, and application start-up. Microsoft’s BizSpark promotes and connects software start-ups with mentors and investors. UW adds $1 billion in research funding to the local economy and is creating a 23,000 square foot office and lab facility to promote new ventures. There are several other incubators and business accelerator programs available to entrepreneurs, depending on the industry of the start-up.

Washington itself was ranked 7th in innovation and entrepreneurship by the US Chamber of Commerce, in no small part to the high percentage of STEM jobs in the state. The governor has made economic growth a top agenda item, establishing the Economic Competitiveness and Development office to streamline all trade and economic efforts. Seattle’s own Office of Economic Development regularly helps entrepreneurs discover financial incentives for their businesses, including grants from the CDBG Small Business Loan Fund or the Grow Seattle Fund, at least seven sources of small business loans, and New Markets Tax Credits.

Gain Insight from a Business Attorney

If you are considering relocating to start a new business, you could benefit from contacting an experienced business attorney to help you evaluate benefits and challenges for each location. Laws regarding articles of incorporation, resolution of corporate disputes, and protecting intellectual property can all come into play as you set up your new venture. A real estate attorney can also assist with the purchase of a business space or provide a commercial lease review.

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