The Oregon Convention Center, Oregon Zoo, Portland Expo Center, and Portland’5 Centers for the Arts are powerful economic generators for the state and centers for communities to connect. These visitor venues employ thousands and serve as gathering places for millions of memories created each year.
Metro’s visitor venues attract significant economic activity to the state and greater Portland region, much of it from outside Oregon. This economic activity, in turn, generates substantial state and local tax revenues. Collectively, Metro’s visitor venues create more than 8,000 jobs. The four venues generate nearly $28 million in taxes and nearly $877 million is generated in direct, indirect and induced spending.
When it is safe to do so, Metro’s visitor venues will return to their community purpose. Portland’5 Centers for the Arts, the Oregon Zoo, Oregon Convention Center, and Portland Expo Center host events that help create lasting connections to the arts, foster empathy and compassion for wildlife, inspire innovation and generate commerce. The travel, tourism and hospitality industry will be integral to the nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. When members of the community can experience new places, learn about other cultures and enjoy art again it will help revitalize the social and cultural recovery as well.
“We want Oregonians to continue to have their first trip to the theater with loved ones. We want to provide conservation and educational opportunities which our community endorsed with the Oregon Zoo bond. And, we want to support local restaurants, small businesses, and hotels that need our convention, expo and tradeshow visitors to revive their businesses and pull through the pandemic-driven economic downturn. In addition, the tax revenue generated from our venues helps pay for schools, safety and transportation options,” said Metro Council President Lynn Peterson.
Travel is a primary driver of economic growth and job creation in the United States. The Oregon Convention Center hosts national conventions whose attendees spend an average of $404 per day in Oregon. Conference goers often extend their stay to visit the Oregon coast, Willamette Valley wineries, and Mount Hood recreational areas, the Columbia River Gorge, central Oregon and more. With conventions booked as far out as fiscal year 2028-2029, the Oregon Convention Center is poised to help the region’s economic recovery for the next decade.
“I am proud that our venues support jobs and economic activity in not just our region but throughout the entire state,” said Scott Cruickshank, general manager of Metro’s visitor venues. “When the time comes, we will reopen our venues with guidance from public health officials in order to safely revitalize our economy and return people to work in our venues and the business sectors that rely on us,” he continued.
The arts move people to a better, more beautiful world. One in which we connect, celebrate culture, and inspire youth to think creatively and express their true selves. Portland’5 Centers for the Arts offers more than 1,000 cultural events annually, including Broadway productions and world-renowned artists. Many of these performances celebrate different culture’s histories. Hosting these events allows Metro to encourage cultural conversations and supports Metro’s mission to advance racial equity. Portland’5 invites more than 14,000 Title-1 students and teachers to enjoy new experiences at zero cost to the schools. The resident organizations – Oregon Symphony, Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Oregon Children’s Theatre, and Portland Youth Philharmonic – call these theaters home and rely on these facilities as no other venues in the region are equipped for their specific needs.
The Oregon Zoo makes a better future for wildlife by building empathy and compassion for the animals on this planet. Broad community support has given the Oregon Zoo the distinction of being the top paid cultural institution in the Pacific Northwest, with more than 1.5 million visitors every year. Currently several capital upgrades are in process that will enhance animal welfare, provide educational opportunities, and ensure sustainable operations.
The Portland Expo Center hosts a variety of consumer public tradeshows and community events like home and garden, automotive, RV, antique and outdoor shows. These provide affordable entertainment and opportunities to connect with fellow hobbyist and enthusiasts. The Expo Center also holds memorial events remembering the Vanport Flood and the internment of Japanese-Americans at the Portland Assembly Center during World War II.
Metro’s visitor venues are designed to create safe and welcoming spaces for people to gather, innovate and build personal and business connections that foster progress throughout the region and around the globe. Each year, Metro’s visitor venues create space to build connections.
When it is safe to do so, Metro’s visitor venues will be ready to reignite connections through business-to-business events, arts performances, discovering wildlife and enjoying lifestyle and hobby shows. With guidance from public health officials, teams are preparing for the return of cultural events, community connections and generating thousands of jobs throughout the region.
Contact Heather Back for additional information about Metro's visitor venues: [email protected]