For 2018, we’ve identified four issue areas we must address to ensure Portland’s future is an equitable city where prosperity can be shared by all.
It is time to put an end to the disturbing increase in traffic deaths, which disproportionately occur in neighborhoods with larger minority and low-income populations. We must achieve Vision Zero and ensure that every Portlander has access to safe, walkable and bikeable streets.
In Q1, we held a transportation policy event that included a panel of experts who explored how businesses can help address our region's transportation challenges. Moderated by Oregon Humanities' Director Adam Davis, this panel discussion featured regional leaders like Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, Portland Bureau of Transportation's Director Leah Treat, former Washington Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson, and ZGF Architects’ Nolan Lienhart.
In early February, a self-selected group of approximately 25 BBPDX members converged to study a number of transportation issues coming before City Council and Metro in the coming months and years. The group decided upon the Enhanced Transportation Corridors as the first transportation policy priority for the year.
In collaboration with some of those work group members, board and staff developed a written testimony in support of the plan that included signatures from more than 50 BBPDX members. Following in person testimony from BBPDX's Chief Collaboration Officer Ashley Henry on June 20, City Council unanimously voted to adopted the ETC - a huge win for Portland's bus system!
Equity in Entrepreneurship & Access to Capital
We will leverage the strength of established businesses to help entrepreneurs cultivate success and create more opportunity for more diverse business leaders. While we cannot erase the inequities that were created by historic economic development strategies, we can be a part of developing and implementing strategies that are inclusive of and beneficial to Portland's diverse communities.
In early April, BBPDX member Uncorked hosted BBPDX and TAO members in their office for a presentation. Staff from Prosper Portland and the Mayor’s office updated members on the status of the City’s budget discussions pertaining to economic development strategies. The audience was surprised to learn how relatively little resource the City spends on economic development overall. After the event, we learned that the portion of the proposed budget that was to dedicated to programs that support underrepresented entrepreneurs was at risk. BBPDX wrote and submitted a letter to Mayor Wheeler and City Council. Signed by over 125 Portland businesses, we advocated that Prosper Portland's programs to support underrepresented business owners be fully funded this budget season.
With the support of our members, the City Council passed the most significant budget allocation for Prosper Portland in recent memory. While the City has much work to do to address economic inequality, securing this budget allocation was an important first step towards the kind of inclusive economic development strategy that our city and businesses deserve!
Community & Connection
Rather than prescribe our own solutions, we will listen to community leaders to determine where our business voices can be most helpful to their essential work. Portland's business community can also get more done by constructive engagement with our representatives. The complex challenges our city faces call for a new approach to policy engagement that is collaborative and advances the outcomes that will benefit not only our businesses, but the community as a whole.
Summer in Portland is a season of celebration. We’ll be kicking ours off with BBPDX’s 2nd Annual Summer Social on July 10. It will give our members an opportunity to network and get to know one another’s work while also the chance to hear from a few community leaders including Metro President-elect Lynn Peterson.
After the Summer Social, we’ll embark on important learning exercises with our members. BBPDX has been asked to endorse both the Yes for Affordable Housing measure which was referred to the November ballot by Metro as well as the Portland Clean Energy Fund measure which is currently collecting signatures and aims to make the ballot by early July. BBPDX members will be given the opportunity to participate in workgroups to study these proposals and advise the Board on endorsements. This is a critical part of the civic education process that BBPDX members have access to through their membership.
Housing & Homelessness
Addressing the housing and homelessness crisis is essential to the future success of our city and businesses.
After the endorsement process in the summer, we will have a better idea of how BBPDX will be engaging on these issues in the fall. In the meantime, please review our recent op-ed in Oregon Business magazine on this topic.
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