What does Business For A Better Portland do?
We provide business leaders with efficient ways to engage in Portland's most pressing issues: Safe and Efficient Transportation (Winter 2018), Equity in Entrepreneurship & Access to Capital (Spring 2018), Community & Connection (Summer 2018), and Housing & Homelessness (Fall 2018). With the city's most innovative change-makers, we host events to help our members learn more about key community issues, organize short-term workgroups for members who want to dig into community issues in more depth, and then issue quarterly "Calls To Action" (CTA) to the entire membership. These CTAs provide busy entrepreneurs the opportunity to lend their voice to critical issues that impact not only their business but the community as a whole.
Our model aims to be cooperative, efficient, and grassroots. We forge collaborative relationships with the business community, non-profit organizations, and government to advocate for a Portland that is equitable and prosperous for all.
Why a membership organization for businesses?
When we founded our organization in early 2016 as the Portland Independent Chamber of Commerce, we were an all-volunteer effort. Interest in our organization was overwhelming. Business and community leaders told us that they wanted to see our organization formalized to ensure our impact and longevity. Companies also said they wanted us to organize events for business leaders to gather and learn about our policy priorities and how to constructively engage. In early 2017, we began collecting membership dues which enabled us to get great people to do great work on behalf of our members.
Since our launch in early 2017, we have grown to over 220 member companies and organizations and are now the 18th largest Chamber of Commerce (as determined by number of paid members) listed in the June 2018 issue of the Portland Business Journal. What’s notable is that the vast majority of our members were previously unengaged in a business organization. We are thrilled that BBPDX is giving so many businesses access to the civic process and that they are learning how to leverage their political capital as business leaders.
Why a new business organization? Doesn’t Portland already have them?
We see ourselves not as a trade association but as a community-building organization. We are built on the premise that a thriving city supports thriving businesses. Our members want to do their part towards solving community-wide problems like housing affordability and transportation challenges. Working alongside government and nonprofits, we’ve seen real results. That’s a fundamentally different way of operating when compared to traditional chambers of commerce.
When we formed, we wanted to do a couple things: harness the power of technology to quickly make an impact on community problems and to represent businesses who wanted to weigh into helping with big issues like homelessness, but couldn’t do so on their own. We support other groups who are trying to make business’ voices heard, and we’re open to collaboration. We’re not proprietary about the work we do.
How is your organization different from other business organizations?
We attract a new generation of entrepreneurs who understand the power of leveraging grassroots organizing and technology to efficiently meet our shared goals and advance the pace of change.
Our members are building values-based businesses. They know that their profits are inseparable from the prosperity of Portland.
Finally, many of our allies are in newer sectors like technology, design, architecture, and next generation manufacturing. They’re trying something new, and so are we. It’s a good fit.
What is your founding story?
Launched in 2016, Business for a Better Portland is a new kind of business organization whose members believe that the health and prosperity of businesses depends on the health and prosperity of its citizens.
In late 2015 we organized to help preserve the stories of the Vanport flood. It was an opportunity to involve the local business community and raise awareness, yet we needed an efficient method to communicate and rally around the issue. This call-to-action contributed in part to helping Vanport Mosaic raise over $8,000. It sparked a promising formula for success and engagement: businesses collaborating with community leaders and organizers to leverage technology and support the vision of Portland's future we all wish to see. We announced a volunteer-led organization and a monthly call-to-action model, which helped us raise money and mobilize support for a number of causes and projects. In 2017, our next iteration, Business for a Better Portland, was born.
What about nonprofit organizations? Can we join, too?
I'm an individual and I'd like to support your work. How can I do that?
It's been so gratifying to hear from private citizens and philanthropists who are enthused by our work. Early on, it became apparent that so much of the work we are doing is focused on fundamental civic education. This need for civic engagement became so apparent to BBPDX that we began pursuing a 501(c)(3) affiliate that would allow us to secure funding to strengthen our educational work. By the end of 2017, Friends of BBPDX became a program of the Charitable Partnership Fund, a 501(c)(3). Please email us for more information about philanthropic giving options or click here to make an online gift right now.
We forge collaborative relationships between the business community, non-profit organizations, and government to advocate for a Portland that is equitable and prosperous for all.
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