Chambers Join Together in Support of Portland Means Progress Initiative

May 7, 2019

Dear Mayor Wheeler and Commissioners,

Our organizations are pleased to come together to express our support for the budget recommendations before you that will fund critical economic development programs led by Prosper Portland. These programs address the need for greater shared prosperity, and more importantly, help address the deep and historic social and economic inequities experienced by communities of color in our city.

As partners and participants in Prosper Portland programs, all our organizations have a deep interest in its progress and success. Many of our organizations deliver technical assistance programs as partners of the Inclusive Business Resource Network which provides culturally responsive pathways and programs for entrepreneurs that are key to boosting our long-term economic growth. While some of our organizations and entrepreneurs do not benefit directly from these programs, we are all strong proponents of an inclusive, economic development strategy that invests in and supports underrepresented business owners.

Data shows that these investments are one of the most promising paths to creating economic mobility for all communities —-something that's life-changing and inextricably tied to improving revenues, reducing health disparities, and improving investment in our communities and neighborhoods.

While we bring our unique perspectives and diverse vantage points to this work, we are united in our commitment to ensuring that these programs succeed and dedicated to our shared vision of creating equitable economic opportunity for all Portlanders.

Although the Portland Means Progress (PMP) emerged from the Mayor’s Council of Economic Advisors, we are hopeful that all our commissioners will see the wisdom and promise of this program for the entire community. The program launched its Early Adopter phase in March, and our organizations experienced one of the most diverse and meaningful gatherings to date for our organizations. As PMP project partners, many of our organizations have been deeply invested in forming this initiative so that its design and intentions will truly have an impact that’s meaningful for our constituents and a sustainable resource moving forward.

We appreciate the Mayor’s enthusiasm for PMP and for providing a pathway for the private sector to engage in creating a more inclusive and accessible economy. Early enthusiasm for the program indicates how critical it will be to sufficiently resource the program. If the program is to deliver on its promise, it will be critical for City Council to understand and support the funding necessary to maintain and sustain the resources and staff now and in the future.

Our decades of experience in supporting our small business communities have shown us that there is no singular solution that works alone and Portland Means Progress, Inclusive Business Resource Network, Mercatus, and My People’s Market each provide invaluable business opportunities, visibility, and access to the entrepreneurs and small businesses of our communities.

These programs provide a continuum of services that lead to success and improved outcomes for emerging businesses. We believe each of these programs are so important to the momentum we have gained in this work that we request that the City Council maintain their funding levels and identify permanent funding sources so that we do not have to continually advocate for one-time funding.

It has been a long journey for us to get to this place of investment and programming. We commend Prosper Portland for its commitment to working with us and demonstrating its values of authentic inclusion, transparency, and collaboration. With your continued support and funding, together we can create a more inclusive and prosperous economy for all.

Sincerely,

James Parker, Oregon Native American Chamber

Ashley Henry, Business For A Better Portland

Janice Mason, Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon

Gale Castillo, Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber

Evelyn Liu, Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce - APACC

Kristen Gallagher, XXcelerate

Annie LaVerdure-Weller, Portland Area Business Association


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