Call To Action: Doubling Down On Our Commitment to Portland's Underrepresented Entrepreneurs

Ashley Henry (BBPDX) and Skip Newberry (Technology Association of Oregon) with the staff of Prosper Portland's Economic Development Team

Ashley Henry (BBPDX) and Skip Newberry (Technology Association of Oregon) with the staff of Prosper Portland's Economic Development Team

It’s not every day that the city government invites folks in the business community over to their office and presents them with flowers. But that’s exactly what happened last week when the Prosper Portland team hosted Business For A Better Portland and the Technology Association of Oregon during a visit to express their appreciation and celebrate our partnership.

Allow us to explain. Back in the spring, you may recall that we issued a call-to-action to support programs serving underrepresented entrepreneurs. Those critical programs were vulnerable to budget cuts. With news that small business lending and support is at a critical low in our region, and disproportionately affecting communities of color, these programs are more necessary than ever. Entrepreneurship is one of the most promising paths to wealth creation, economic development, and shared prosperity.

Our members made their voices heard: these programs are necessary and worthy of investment. The response to our call for budgetary support was overwhelmingly positive. We testified in support, and over 120 businesses and organizations signed onto our letter to City Council. The budget— one of the largest ever for Prosper with a 20% increase in funding—was secured.

Our visit last week was an opportunity for their staff to say, “Thank you.” And now we’re passing that expression of gratitude on to you, our visionary BBPDX members, whose show of support made all of the difference. It was humbling to experience government employees as everyday people yearning for ideas, partnerships, and support. So often this work is criticized or underappreciated. While we recognize there is always room for improvement in any government policy or strategy, our approach from Day 1 at BBPDX has been to support through collaboration. Kimberly Branam, Executive Director of Prosper Portland, called this public/private partnership “a radical act.”

It was heartening to hear from the Prosper Portland staff about the impact they’re already seeing from these programs. The Inclusive Business Resource Network (IBRN) has seen 98 minority or women-owned businesses reach a “Strong and Stable” level during the last fiscal year. That’s 98 businesses creating jobs, growing our economy, and contributing to the fabric of the community. We also learned there are more ways businesses like yours can get involved by lending your time and talent.

Prosper Portland is seeking pro-bono services in the following categories to support the entrepreneurs and small businesses participating in their programs. On the application, you can indicate the number of member businesses you are willing to support. We’re thrilled that our colleagues at the Portland Business Alliance are also sharing this opportunity with their members. The deadline to contribute services to support these entrepreneurs is September 30th.

  1. Tax support. Seeking packages valued at $10,000 or more to provide free support to file taxes specifically for C-Corps, S-Corps, or Limited Partner companies. Sign up here.

  2. Accounting. Seeking bookkeeping setup and advice for a $10,000 value or more. Sign up here.

  3. Creative Services. Seeking digital marketing, graphic design, brand, and storytelling services. Sign up here.

  4. Office Space. Seeking free office space for at least six months. Sign up here.

  5. Airline miles. Seeking donated airline miles or vouchers to get entrepreneurs to trade shows and investor meetings. Donate here.

Finally, we hope to see you at the VIP Happy Hour at My People’s Market on Friday, November 9. This is a procurement opportunity like no other, highlighting businesses in the food, product and service industries alongside arts and culture. Learn more and get your ticket here.


Ashley Henry and Team BBPDX

PS: Prosper Portland, in collaboration with Worksystems and Mayor Ted Wheeler’s Council of Economic Advisors, is launching an initiative that will look to focus the collective passion, commitment and know-how of Portland businesses, nonprofits and institutions in pursuit of our shared goal of growing Portland’s diverse economic landscape. Stay tuned for more information!