Salem's Business Community
Located in the center of the Willamette Valley, Salem and Keizer sit at the heart of one of the most fertile and agriculturally productive regions in the world where a wide range of cash crops includes hops, berries, fruits, flowers and grass seed. Truly a beneficiary of expanded world trade, agricultural products from the Willamette Valley are not only shipped across the country but exported around the globe.
Keizer itself is the “Iris Capital of the World” with acres of blooms raised in fields and nurseries, then shipped to admirers far and near. In the hills above Salem, an acclaimed wine industry has taken root in the rich volcanic soils and unique microclimate. While only a small part of the greater economic pie, the renowned varietal wines including pinot noirs and chardonnays produced in the Willamette Valley have brought international attention to the region attracting many new businesses and residents.
Salem, both the state capitol city and Marion County Seat, is Oregon's second largest city and the regional and economic hub of the Willamette Valley. State government is the area’s largest employer with approximately 13,000 full-time workers employed by more the fifty government departments and agencies. Salem is also a major agricultural food processing center as well as a center of employment in education as home to Willamette University.
The last two decades have brought much change to this area. Large national retailers such as Costco, Shopko, Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot recognized the Salem region’s market potential opening outlets throughout Marion County. Changes in business have included the lumber and textile industries gradually giving way to high technology. In 1989, Siltec, a computer chip manufacturer, established a facility, which by 1996 had grown to more than one million square feet and renamed Mitsubishi Silicon America after being acquired by the Japanese conglomerate. Salem's diversification into electronics and metal fabrication has been praised by Oregon Business magazine.
The principal industries providing employment in Salem and West Salem are educational, health and social services (20%), retail trade (12%), public administration (11%), and manufacturing (12%). The main areas of employment in Keizer are educational, health and social services (18%), public administration (12%), manufacturing (12%) and retail trade (11%). Many Keizer residents commute into Salem with an average commute time of just over 22 minutes. Salem and Keizer residents commuting to tech jobs in Portland can expect an easy hour commute each way.
Salem and Keizer’s local governments are committed to encouraging industry and commerce so that diverse job opportunities with livable incomes are available for citizens. City government recognizes that support of local businesses is fundamental as economic stability is created by fostering the success of small and medium-sized businesses, as well as providing opportunities for larger businesses and industries. Because agriculture remains such an important part of the region’s economy, while growth occurs consideration is given to possible impact on agricultural productivity.
Oregon has an active Small Business Development Department with 22 offices across the state including a helpful local center based at Chemeketa Community College in Salem. Additional state government programs that foster job and business growth include the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP), which provides grants for training in the food processing industry and the new Advanced Manufacturing Initiative, which provides funding to train workers in advanced manufacturing skills.
The Willamette Valley has very low business costs compared to the rest of the country. There is no state sales tax, no inventory tax, no worldwide unitary tax, no motor vehicle excise tax, no business and occupations tax and no direct levies on intangible properties, such as stocks, bonds and securities. Corporate income tax is very low. Tax rates are very favorable for workers as well, with state personal income tax lower than in many other states.