Oct 22, 2019

Teamwork key to solving housing crisis

As the first state in the nation to allow more housing types in all urban residential neighborhoods, Oregon is making the kind of gutsy policy move we need to address the housing crisis.

By Ernest Brown and Leslie Carlson

There will always be people who want to paint the issue of housing as an either/or proposition — either livable neighborhoods or dense development — and line up opponents on both sides for a good fight. Portland Tribune's coverage of Business for a Better Portland's forum on housing earlier this month suggested that BBPDX, which represents 400 businesses and organizations of all sizes in and around Portland, is squaring off against neighborhood associations in a battle for more housing options. That's not at all the ethos of Business for a Better Portland.

We're here to tell you that the issue of housing — and the critical housing shortage that is facing cities across the country — isn't that simple.

Read the full story in The Portland Tribune. Ernest Brown is a board member of East Bay for Everyone. Leslie Carlson is the principal and owner of Brink Communications.

Sept 30, 2019

Let’s not wait for Wall Street

“In August, a collection of CEOs from some of the largest companies in the world signed a groundbreaking statement redefining the purpose of corporations. Their new mission: to do more than simply generate wealth for shareholders and, ‘build long-term value by investing in their employees and communities.’

Led by executives like Jamie Diamond of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Mary Barra of General Motors and Doug McMillon of Wal-Mart, the Business Roundtable is calling for "an economy that serves all Americans," with practices that include fair employee compensation, work-place diversity and inclusion, and environmental protection among other commitments. The announcement left many tentatively applauding and others blinking their eyes in disbelief. Now that the PR buzz has died down, the question remains: what actions will these companies take to follow through on these promises?

For decades, communities across the country have seen first-hand the negative impacts of the reigning corporate philosophy that placed short-term profits above all else: rising income inequality, toxic air and water pollution, and an epidemic of opioid use. So, you can be forgiven if you're still skeptical about this newfound commitment to corporate responsibility.

- Jamie Schmidt, Schmidt’s Naturals and Supermaker

Read the full story at The Portland Business Tribune.


Sept 16, 2019

Legislative committee takes up 'capital chasm' facing small businesses, women and people of color

By Matthew Kish – Staff Reporter, Portland Business Journal

“An Oregon House committee on Monday started discussing how to make capital more available for small business owners, especially women and people of color.

Portland Business Journal reporting has shown a steep drop in loans to female- and minority-owned small businesses despite an uptick in bank deposits and commercial lending in Oregon.

The House Interim Committee on Economic Development on Monday heard invited testimony from fellow lawmakers, economic developers and entrepreneurs. It's unclear what sort of policy solution lawmakers might propose.

The entrepreneurs who testified included Mara Zepeda, founder and CEO of Switchboard and chair of XXcelerate and Business for a Better Portland.

Read the full story at The Portland Business Journal.

Sept 5, 2019

BBPDX: How to house more Portlanders

“In Portland, our business ecosystem is powered by our walkable neighborhoods. Our city supports 1,700 storefront businesses within three miles of the city center. But what happens when employees of those businesses look for an affordable place to live in the same part of town as they work?

In Portland, 77% of our residential land is zoned exclusively for detached single-family homes. Can't afford a single-family home or don't need that much space? Right now, you'll need to look elsewhere.

The lack of "missing middle" housing, such as duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes is one of the reasons that housing in many neighborhoods has become out of reach for people in a wide range of incomes and occupations.”

- Erik Lawrence, Ten Bridge Partners

Read the full story at The Portland Business Tribune.

August 3, 2019

Progressives in business on the march

“Business for a Better Portland, the alt chamber of commerce, held its summer social Wednesday evening, in what was as much a display of power as an evening of networking with lawn games and finger food. According to Jenn Lynch of the Portland Seed Fund, who was acting as one of many greeters at the gate, the organization's membership is up to 350 companies. A total of 530 people registered for the event, and 426 showed up.

BBPDX, as it's known, is growing into a viable alternative to business advocacy groups such as the Portland Business Alliance and Oregon Business & Industry. Its membership skews young and progressive: only three men in the crowd wore the traditional sport jacket, shirt and tie uniform, and two of them were politicians.”

Read the full story at The Portland Business Tribune.

August 5, 2019

Building success means investing in our communities

“In January, I challenged the business community to make 2019 a year of civic engagement.

Since then, CEOs have written to and called legislators, advocating for funding for education investments; professionals across industries have devoted time to learning the nuances of residential zoning; and dedicated members committed to work with our civic leaders to play a part in the future of our region's transportation system.”

- Ashley Henry, BBPDX

Read the full story at The Portland Business Tribune.

July 1, 2019

Portland's economic growth creating prosperity - but, for whom?

“On the surface, Oregon's economy is thriving.

Last year, the state's gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 3.4% to $213.7 billion, outstripping the national increase of 2.9%. In fact, over the last 10 years, our economic growth has consistently outpaced the national average, as have our employment rates. … This all seems like great news. But, if we dig a little deeper, we're faced with a critical question: who is benefiting from this prosperity?”

- Marcelino Alvarez, CEO, Uncorked Studios.

Read the full story at The Portland Business Tribune.

June 4, 2019

A few homeless myths busted

“Having a roof over one's head is a basic need most of us will never have to think about. But for too many of our neighbors here in Portland, losing their home is only one layoff, car accident, or medical emergency away.

The homelessness crisis has occupied our city's social consciousness for years now, showing up with alarming regularity in our news, political debates, elections and everywhere in between—and it's a crisis that's not going away any time soon.”

- Dr. David Bangsberg, Dean of the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health.

Read the full story at The Portland Business Tribune.

May 30, 2019

BBPDX moves up to 15th largest business advocacy group in the greater Portland region

With 350 members, BBPDX earned a #15 ranking on the Portland Business Tribune's Largest Chambers list, up from #22 in 2018!

See the complete list at The Portland Business Journal.

May 2, 2019

Yes, it's time to fix PERS

“Oregon is financially out of balance. The economy is growing while teachers get pink slips. We attract new businesses yet shutter libraries and cut back 911 services. What's happening doesn't make sense. And many of us, in our own ways, are trying to find solutions.”

- Caitlin Baggott Davis, executive director, North Star Civic Foundation, and Jesse Beason, president & CEO, Northwest Health Foundation.

Read the full story at The Portland Business Tribune.

april 26, 2019

Business groups offer mixed views on $1 billion corporate tax plan

“Oregon lawmakers on Thursday edged closer to passing a proposed $1 billion corporate tax out of committee, which now seems likely Monday night.

The proposed new tax would be levied against gross receipts in Oregon of $1 million or more. The tax would be $250 plus the product of taxable business receipts multiplied by 0.49 percent. The proposal would allow the subtraction of 25 percent of the greater of either costs paid or labor costs.

Here's where some of the state's business groups stand on the tax proposal. Comments are taken from emailed statements and submitted written testimony and have been edited for brevity and clarity. A full list of submitted testimony can be found on the Legislature's website..”

Read the full story at The Portland Business Journal.


april 16, 2019

Transportation leaders drive new perspective on mobility

“Getting people out of their cars is the greatest traffic challenge facing the Portland region, transportation officials agreed during a panel discussion last week. TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey said doing that will require big thinking, including changing the mission of the regional transit agency he oversees.

‘TriMet is changing from a transit agency to a transportation option agency,’ said Kelsey, noting TriMet's new partnership with bike, scooter and ride-sharing businesses to offer customers door-to-door travel services. For Metro, it may mean arguing against its own public polling on a regional transportation funding measure planned for the November 2020 general election ballot.”

- Jim Redden , Portland Business Journal.

Read the full story at The Portland Business Tribune.


april 2, 2019

It's time to invest in Oregon's education system

“Any business owner knows that an organization's success depends upon the commitment, talent, and training of the people who work there. If you fail to invest in your workforce, you'll soon be dealing with unproductive staff, hearing from unhappy customers and, before long, closing your doors.”

Kali Thorne Ladd, Co-Founder/Executive Director of KairosPDX and Portland Community College Board Chair, and Bryan Steelman, Owner of ¿Por Qué No? Taqueria and BBPDX Member..

Read the full story at The Portland Business Tribune.


March 7, 2019

Women-owned businesses play an outsized role in Oregon's economy. So why aren't we funding them?

“As the founder of XXcelerate, a women’s entrepreneurship program and fund, I hear stories of female founders struggling to secure funding on a daily basis. Some direct quotes include: “By the time I pay for childcare, I’m not even breaking even.” “I need a line of credit to grow my business but don’t have collateral.” “I just got my 53rd rejection from an investor.” “We just landed our largest account ever but we don’t have the capital to cover inventory to fulfill it.”.”

By Mara Zepeda – CEO of Switchboard, founding board chair of Business for a Better Portland and XXcelerate Fund.

Read the full story at The Portland Business Journal.


March 4, 2019

BBPDX: Investment in education is best bet for economic growth

“This year, Oregon's political leaders are presenting businesses with an investment opportunity unlike any we've seen for a generation. After years of mediocre graduation rates, ever-shorter school years and growing classroom sizes, leaders in the Oregon Legislature are proposing corporate tax reform to fund a transformation of public education in Oregon. It's time for business to seize this opportunity for the benefit of our companies and communities.”

Jenn Lynch is board treasurer of Business for a Better Portland, and Managing Director at Portland Seed Fund.

Read the full story at The Portland Business Tribune.


FEBruary 5, 2019

Inclusive company culture is an imperative

“For businesses of any size, there aren't just advantages to being inclusive; it's an imperative. Studies show that when people of color, women and other underrepresented groups are given space to contribute their ideas and support to share their perspectives, companies see improved productivity, more creativity and expanded opportunities for business development and new markets.”

- Kristen Gallagher, Board Member, Business For A Better Portland and founder and CEO of Edify.

Read the full story at The Portland Business Tribune.


January 3, 2019

Make 2019 a year of civic engagement

“We all have a role to play in shaping the future of our country and our community and participation in democracy at the local level is where most of us can make a real difference. Thankfully, finding an outlet for civic engagement is easier than you might think. Here are a few ideas to get you started in 2019…”

Ashley Henry, Executive Director, Business For A Better Portland

Read the full story at The Portland Business Tribune.


DecembeR 2, 2018

Collaborative approach needed to solve homeless crisis

“To slow the growth of homelessness in Oregon, and ultimately reduce the number of people living on our streets, it's critical that we find ways to expand the supply of housing and limit rent inflation.

Increasing the supply of housing will take years. But for thousands, the crisis is happening now. That's why we need protections for tenants to ensure that families are not removed from their homes through no-cause evictions or massive rent hikes.”

Ashley Henry, Chief Collaboration Officer, Business For A Better Portland

Read the full story at The Portland Business Tribune.

NOVEMBER 30, 2018

Opinion: Let’s work together to build a better Oregon

“Inequitable economic policy has fed the growth of income inequality in Oregon and throughout our country. We have the opportunity to buck that trend and invest through our tax dollars. It is within our power to reposition Oregon as a leader in creating greater shared prosperity, generating far-reaching benefits for communities and businesses and, most importantly, for our kids.”

Mat Elis and Lisa Sedlar - Founding Members, Business for a Better Portland

Read the full story at The Oregonian.

NOVEMBER 16, 2018

Businesses respond to sweeping Portland transportation plan

“The business case for transportation improvements in the Central City is too compelling to ignore,” she wrote. “In order for existing and future businesses to thrive in Portland, our employees, customers, goods, and neighbors must be able to move freely and safely through the streets.” [Ashley Henry, Chief Collaboration Officer, Business for a Better Portland, in a letter to Portland City Council]

Caleb Diehl

Read the full story at Oregon Business.

NOVEMBER 15, 2018

Progressive business group expands, launches nonprofit

“Founded in 2017, the association has swelled to around 300 members. The nonprofit, Friends of Business for a Better Portland, will allow both members and people outside the business community to donate to the organization. The funding will support events aimed at educating business leaders about key policy issues: transportation, housing and equitable economic development. While the association stays away from direct lobbying, its members convene workgroups after some of the events and throw their weight behind political causes.”

Caleb Diehl

Read the full story at Oregon Business.

NOVEMBER 5, 2018

Opinion: Moving Portland's central city forward

“To retain our reputation as a center for creativity and innovation, we'll need to invest in cost-effective infrastructure that improves people's ability to move safely and efficiently through the city… The Central City is projected to triple by 2035, while job growth is expected to increase by 40 percent. We must manage that growth to maintain a vibrant economy that continues to foster innovation and allows us to compete on a global stage.”

Ashley Henry, Chief Collaboration Officer, Business For A Better Portland

Read the full story at The Portland Business Tribune.

OCTOBER 29, 2018

Opinion: The big contradiction of corporate giving in Portland

“Businesses give back to the community while simultaneously advocating for the preservation of policies that leave many in our community behind. What’s more, the visible signs of that inequality — camps on the sides of our freeways and garbage on our streets — will never be solved by simply increasing police presence or adding garbage cans. To solve this challenge, we must address the reason the camps and garbage exist in the first place.”

Ashley Henry, Chief Collaboration Officer, Business For A Better Portland

Read the full story at The Portland Business Journal.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2018

Opinion: We must continue to make smart housing investments

“As we help our neighbors facing homelessness, it's important to recognize that the forces feeding this crisis are complex and far-reaching. As a state and a nation, we do not offer nearly enough support or resources for people facing addiction and mental health challenges. We woefully underfund our public education system. We've created an economy that has offered anemic wage growth for most Americans, despite a rapid climb in the cost of necessities like housing, transportation and medical care. And we've failed to invest in affordable housing as families have been priced out of their neighborhoods. Each of these policy decisions has contributed to the growth in homelessness and housing insecurity in Portland and other cities.”

Ashley Henry, Chief Collaboration Officer, Business For A Better Portland

Read the full story at The Portland Business Tribune.

May 1, 2018

Opinion: Business leaders need to address root causes of homelessness

"BBPDX believes that when our community thrives, business thrives.

That means we recognize that when everyone in our community has access to the basics — a good-paying job, a decent meal and a safe place to call home—our community will be stronger and our businesses (large and small) will be more profitable. We believe that business owners have a responsibility to advocate for policies that will improve the lives of not just their families and their employees but all of their neighbors."

Ashley Henry, Chief Collaboration Officer, Business For A Better Portland

Read the full story on Oregon Business.


february 22, 2018

Fledgling Business for Better Portland builds its influence

BBPDX's first membership meeting of the year "opened with a videotaped statement from liberal 3rd District Congressman Earl Blumenauer, D-Portland, who urged those in attendance to get involved in civic affairs. That was followed by a panel discussion on transportation issues, where calls for increased transit and protected bike lanes were greeted with applause."

Read the full story in the The Portland Tribune.


february 8, 2018

Portland's newest business group marks its first year

"I think Business for a Better Portland has demonstrated there is an authentic curiosity that some electeds have to understand and learn from and collaborate with this next generation of socially conscious entrepreneurs. Electeds are seeing Business for a Better Portland members wishing to play that role ... It’s going to take electeds being curious of these new industries, these new processes and places to intersect and have the conversations and have a firm foundation of trust." - Mara Zepeda, BBPDX Board Chair

Read the full story at The Portland Business Journal. 


february 6, 2018

Clear vision needed to sell voters on 2018 and 2020 Metro bond measures

“Chief Collaboration Officer Ashley Henry explained that transportation is an emerging issue for businesses because increasing congestion is interfering with their operations. Creating affordable housing along major transit and transportation corridors is one way to help reduce congestion, she said. "It's critical that businesses work on these issues," Ashley said before the discussion, which was held at The Urbanite, a new interior design hub in inner Southeast Portland.

Read the full story in The Portland Tribune. 


January 31, 2018

Business leaders hear how Portland has fallen behind and needs their support to reach transportation goals

BBPX’s first policy event of the year, “Portland’s Transportation Future: Business Stepping Up To The Challenge”, was an opportunity for panelists and attendees to network and focus on fulfilling a progressive transportation agenda for our city.   

Read the full story on 



November 26, 2017

Portland's homeless crisis needs collaborative approach to address root causes

“While nearly every conversation I have had with business leaders in the last 18 months has touched on the plight of those experiencing homelessness, very few have called out greater police presence as the most urgent and effective solution. Business leaders I've spoken with - whose industries span some of the fastest growing sectors of our economy -- understand that solving a complex problem like homelessness requires nuanced and broad-based solutions that bring elected officials, government agencies, businesses and advocates to the table.”  - Ashley Henry, BBPDX Chief Collaboration Officer

Read the full text of the Op-Ed in the Oregonian.


October 26, 2017

Call for Applications to Join the BBPDX Associate Board

It’s time to take the next step to scale our collective work and extend our reach and efficacy. We are calling for applications to join the BBPDX Associate Board. "We are committed to growing and diversifying our organization’s leadership by engaging new sectors and communities that represent Portland’s diverse business community." - Anna Hutson, Founder and CEO, Avenue

Learn more and apply here.


AUGUST 29, 2017

BBPDX shows up, raises cash for winners
of PitchBlack

"A founder member of Business for a Better Portland, Stephen Green likes the group because it's focused on action. 'They ask members to do something, it's a call to action to show up and support someone, not just placate and talk.'"

Read the full story in the Portland Tribune


JULY 10, 2017

Business group seeks a prosperous Portland for everyone

"We saw an opportunity to create a new type of business organization that represents progressive businesses in growing industries that value collaboration and solutions over stalling and cynicism. Traditionally, businesses have come together to ensure that policies benefit businesses only. What if we advocate for policies that make our city better and more inclusive?" - Mara Zepeda, BBPDX co-founder, board member and CEO of Switchboard.

Read the full interview in Crain's Portland.


JUNE 19, 2017

A budget for creating great schools,
also grows business

BBPDX member, and founder and CEO of McClanahan Bruer, Kerry McClanahan writes: "By adequately funding our education system, we meet the needs of our kids and we help businesses attract and keep talented employees. It's time we do what's right for our businesses, our families and the future of our state."

Read the full OpEd in OregonLive.


JUNE 17, 2017

Businesses speak out in favor of paying more for essential services

BBPDX surveyed 100 members in March and received 35 replies back, which were unanimous in favor of paying more taxes to support public education. "We remind our leaders that what they are hearing 'inside the building' is not representative of the entire diversity of business leaders across the state," says Ashley Henry, the chief collaboration officer for BBPDX.

Read the full story in the Portland Tribune.


JUNE 14, 2017

Green Hammer CEO Stephen Aiguier explains dire consequences of delaying action on business taxes

"While we need to curb the rising costs of public employee benefits, including pensions and health plans, spending cuts in the absence of improvements to the state’s business tax structure will only create continued uncertainty for businesses. And, with the start of the 2017-2018 school year just three months away, it will also delay critical investments in K-12 education and unnecessarily jeopardize the future of Oregon's children."

Read the full OpEd in the Portland Business Journal.


JUNE 13, 2017

Businesses speak in favor of gross receipts tax to fix education funding

Mat Ellis, CEO of Cloudability Inc. in the Portland Pearl District, asked lawmakers to pass the tax so he no longer loses young, highly skilled employees who love Oregon until their children grow to school age.

"If you want to foster a vibrant tech industry in this state — and the well-paid jobs that come with it — you’ll have to make the necessary investments, which begins with an appropriately funded education system,” Ellis told the Joint Committee on Tax Reform at the Capitol.

Read the full story in the Statesman Journal.


JUNE 13, 2017

Oregon tech leaders voice support for corporate tax plan

Matt Ellis, BBPDX founding member, and Founder & CEO of Portland-Based Cloudability, says companies such as his rely upon Oregon's quality of life, including well-performing public schools, to attract highly skilled workers from other major metropolitan areas. "If we want to move people from Chicago, New York and the Bay, we have to have the complete package here. If we can get schools back to being reasonable, that's a big help."

Read the full story on OregonLive.


JUNE 13, 2017

BBPDX is not a trade organization, 
but a community-building organization

"Another new organization, Business for a Better Portland, has moved quickly from Portland-area issues into statewide policy by supporting a new business tax.  The organization is creating a new model for business advocacy and involvement, saying it is not a trade association but a community-building organization.”  

Read the full story in Oregon Business.


JUNE 7, 2017

Portland business group: Spending cuts alone won’t fix state’s budget

"We realize the clock is ticking, but our legislature needs to move forward this session with revenue reform alongside spending cuts. Because at the end of the day, we aren’t just business owners or shareholders — we’re also parents and neighbors and, above all, Oregonians. And it is our sincere belief that by building stronger communities, we’ll create a stronger economy for all of us." 

Read the full OpEd in the Portland Business Journal.


JUNE 2, 2017

BBPDX surpasses the 100 member mark!

"The biggest win for Portland’s youngest chamber, Business For A Better Portland (No. 23), was surpassing 100 diverse member businesses after relaunching in February."

Read the full story in the Portland Business Journal.


FEBRUARY 8, 2017

Portland indie chamber rebrands, expands membership

“Last year was about proving that businesses in Portland believe that business succeeds when a city is equitable and prosperous,” said Mara Zepeda, chair of the Business for a Better Portland board, and CEO of the startup Switchboard, in a written statement.

Read the full story in the Portland Business Journal.



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“BBPDX breathes fresh air into what it means to be a chamber. It’s not bad food with stuffy people looking for referrals. Its real folks, committed to making a difference their communities while growing great businesses.”

–Stephen Green, founder of PitchBlack


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BBPDX members share a commitment to making our city more fair, just, and safe for every resident. Be a part of that mission.