Hip Cities

Years ago, I visited Portland, Oregon, for business. Learned Mt. Hood was about an hour away — and it was March — I packed my ski boots. Hopped into my rental car after my business was done and drove out to Timberline Lodge.  Although it was a solitary experience, I did enjoy myself.It was the only time I was ever able to combine skiing with business.

I liked Portland, too.  Thought it might be a really good city to live in some day. Apparently, thousands of others share my opinion, resulting in Portland’s higher-than-average unemployment rate. The story, via The Wall Street Journal:

This drizzly city along the Willamette River has for years been among the most popular urban magnets for college graduates looking to start their careers in a small city of like-minded folks. Now the jobs are drying up, but the people are still coming. The influx of new residents is part of the reason the unemployment rate in the Portland metropolitan area has more than doubled to 11.8% over the past year, and is now above the national average of 8.9%.

More photos and interactive graphics Some new arrivals are burning through their savings as they hunt for jobs that no longer exist. Some are returning home. Others are settling for low-paying jobs they are overqualified for.

With his search for a journalism job coming up short, Mr. Singer has spent thousands in savings, and is now earning $12 an hour at a temporary job scanning loan documents, a task he says is so mind-numbing he listens to his iPod all day. “Careerwise, it’s definitely not what I’d like to be doing,” says Mr. Singer.

The worst recession in a generation is disrupting migration patterns and overturning lives across the country. Yet, cities like Portland, along with Austin, Texas, Seattle and others, continue to be draws for the young, educated workers that communities and employers covet. What these cities share is a hard-to-quantify blend of climate, natural beauty, universities and — more than anything else — a reputation as a cool place to live. For now, an excess of young workers is adding to the ranks of the unemployed. But holding on to these people through the downturn will help cities turn around once the economy recovers.

Portland has attracted college-educated, single people between the ages of 25 and 39 at a higher rate than most other cities in the country. Between 1995 and 2000, the city added 268 people in that demographic group for every 1,000 of the same group living there in 1995, according to the Census Bureau. Only four other metropolitan areas had a higher ratio. The author of the Census report on these “youth magnet” cities, Rachel Franklin, now deputy director the Association of American Geographers, says the Portland area’s critical mass of young professionals means it has a “sustained attractiveness” for other young people looking for a place to settle down.

Meanwhile, back in New Jersey, it won’t be long before Trenton, Newark and Camden “get hip.” My little town my not be hip, but it’s still cool.

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Kickin Heineken

Amy Corr’s MediaPost piece on Shiner Beer’s ambush of Heineken at the Austin City Limits music festival is worth reading — if just for the comments.  Texans love their beer, and I don’t think they care what the official beer sponsor was.

The story was first published in October (Ad Age), back when it was news:

Apparently, the Dutch have never heard the phrase “Don’t mess with Texas.” How else to explain Heineken’s sponsorship of the Austin City Limits Music Festival? Sure, Austin tends toward the urbane and sophisticated, and the ACL does draw a huge NPR sort of crowd. So it could have seemed like a good fit for an import that is regarded as a little more classy than your average American brew.

But Austin is deep in the heart of Shiner country. You know Shiner, right? Great beer made in Texas that, for some reason, isn’t distributed in New York (though if you know where to look, you can find it). Sadly, if you’re a country-first, underdog kind of beer drinker, little Shiner simply couldn’t compete with a company like Heineken when it came to snagging the ACL Music Festival sponsorship. So how is that guy in the photo to the left drinking a Shiner, when there were none to be found? He isn’t!

Shiner wasn’t even available inside the festival. But that didn’t stop its ad agency, McGarrah Jessee, from targeting the 65,000 people attending. So the shop printed up Shiner koozies designed to look just like Shiner cans and had street teams hand them out to festival-goers. Sure, they might not have sold any beer that day, but they did get the brand out there in a way that anyone with a soft spot for scrappy underdogs would appreciate. (But just for the record, I’d rather have a Shiner in my koozie than a Shiner koozie on my Heiny.)

Good work by the agency. Wonder if Heineken will be better prepared next time around — with their own beer koozies. But take a closer look at the Austin City Limits photos, and you’ll see people drinking Lone Star beer.

And the koozies I saw were the Keep Austin Weird variety.

Love this Shiner TV spot:

Zombie Alert in Austin

Nice hack, but potentially dangerous.

Somebody in Austin, TX, hacked a roadside construction sign to read “Caution! Zombies Ahead!”

Fox News picked it up:

Austin Public Works spokeswoman Sara Hartley said the incident was not initially reported to police, but will be shortly. The sign was reverted back to its original message within hours, according to Hartley, who insisted the signs are tamper-resistant and equipped with external locks.

“This sign was broken into, it was not just a ‘walk up and change the sign’ kind of thing,” Hartley told FOXNews.com. “This is a new one for us, we’ve never had it happen before.”

She said she did not know whether any other signs in the area had been altered.

According to the blog i-hacked.com, some commercial road signs, including those manufactured by IMAGO’s ADDCO division, can be easily altered because their instrument panels are frequently left unlocked and their default passwords are not changed.

“Programming is as simple as scrolling down the menu selection,” i-hacked.com reports. “Type whatever you want to display … In all likelihood, the crew will not have changed [the password].”

I-hacked.com warns readers not to try to alter the signs, which cost roughly $15,000.

ADDCO Chief Operating Officer Brian Nicholson told FOXNews.com that the company is sending out notices to customers on the potentially dangerous security flaw.

“It’s incumbent upon users to change the default password and secure the sign with a padlock,” Nicholson said. “We’re having our engineers review this information.”

Click here to learn more about ADDCO’s mobile signs, and here for an inside look.