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Chair's Blog

A thriving downtown economy this holiday season November 2014
By Debbie Kitchin









Downtown Portland is welcoming the beginning of the holiday 2014 season with lights, Pop-Up Shops and a variety of promotions for downtown shoppers. This is a prime time of year for retailers and restaurateurs, and thanks to the Clean & Safe District and our partners at the Downtown Marketing Initiative, holiday programming in downtown Portland creates the festive shopping experience of a healthy and vibrant central city.
 
We are kicking off the season this week with Portland Mayor Charlie Hales in Pioneer Courthouse Square with the unveiling of downtown’s first yarn bombed statue of the season, the “Allow Me” umbrella man in Pioneer Square. We are continuing last year’s “Ugly Sweater” art experience by having local fiber artists yarn bomb 10 statues in the Pioneer District with festive attire. The otters were my favorite last year - look for them on Yamhill and Morrison streets between Fifth and Sixth avenues. The duck and beaver statues, on the same block as the otters, will be decked out as mascots in honor of the Civil War football game this year. I’m a Reed College graduate so I’m free to cheer both teams: Go Ducks and Go Beavs!    
 
By popular demand, we are bringing back Pop-Up Shops this year. Started during the hardest recession years, the Pop-Up Shop program activates empty storefronts with local entrepreneurs, allowing us to support local talent and emerging retail entrepreneurs. The Pop-Up Shop program creates new jobs, temporarily activates vacant storefronts and encourages shoppers to seek out unique local gifts during the holiday season. For the first time, we will have shops in the Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood (11 NW Fifth Ave.), where three local vendors – Field Notes/Draplin Design Co., Omiyage and North St. Bags - will sell their goods under one roof.

For the past five years, we have been working closely with the city of Portland, our partners in the Clean & Safe District and Travel Portland to reinvigorate and revitalize downtown Portland to ensure it remains the premier shopping destination in the region. Downtown’s retail vacancy rate remains at a low 5 percent, and this year we have more than 30 new retailers downtown, representing a mix of national and local stores.

All this and more contributes to the importance of an active and healthy downtown. Results from the Clean & Safe District’s 2013 Business Census and Survey, which will be released next week, show that downtown has maintained its momentum and continues to be a great place to do business. Some highlights of the report findings include an upward trend in employment within construction and service industries. For the 13th year in a row, a large majority of downtown business owners feel that downtown is clean and safe. Look for our release of the full report next week.
 
Downtown Portland is truly the place to celebrate the holidays; I encourage you to take advantage of all it has to offer during this season. For information on holiday events and happenings, visit www.downtownportland.org.
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