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Chair's Blog

Year in review June 2013
By Dennis Rawlinson

The end of June marks the end of the fiscal year for the Portland Business Alliance, and the end of my term as your board chair. So I want to take this chance to reflect on everything we have done over the past twelve months. It’s been an action-packed year, with the release of five Value of Jobs studies, the roll-out of our updated brand, the launch of our new website, and the great progress we made on a number of policy issues.

This year we also continued to build on our partnerships with statewide business associations, which has contributed to the headway we’ve made in our advocacy work. The partnership between the Alliance, Oregon Business Association, Oregon Business Council and Associated Oregon Industries led us to a number of successes in the Legislature this year on many high priority policy issues for the Alliance, including PERS reform, higher education, industrial land development and public safety reform. We also teamed up on our annual trip to Washington, D.C.

Another success this year was significant progress on our top transportation priority, the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project, by securing Oregon’s financial commitment to the project.  We are continuing efforts with partners in Washington State during their current special session and hope that we can start building this much needed new bridge.

Downtown livability was, as always through our partnership with the Clean & Safe District, a main focus of ours as well.  We worked with Clean & Safe and other partners, including Travel Portland, to move legislation to give cities greater flexibility to manage sidewalk behavior.  While we were not successful in the Senate (though we passed the house with an amazing 57-2 yes vote!), we are talking through ideas and opportunities with Portland Mayor Charlie Hales to improve the livability of downtown and ensure sidewalks are accessible for everyone who uses them.

If you pick up the theme of “partnership,” that’s on purpose. The Alliance believes we are stronger when we work collaboratively with partners like the ones I’ve mentioned above and others, including Greater Portland Inc., Grow Oregon, Central City Concern, Transition Projects, Portland Development Commission, Venture Portland, and so many others. We all come together to build a stronger community, with more jobs and better incomes for the families who make Portland metro their home.

The work we’ve accomplished this past year, on our own and with our partners, is a testament to our dedication to our members. We recently completed our annual membership survey and received some great feedback. The results show that 85 percent of members are on track to renew, which is consistent with previous surveys.  The results also revealed that 92 percent would recommend membership to another business, an increase from last year. We are also seeing a much better sentiment among members regarding the state of the economy and how they feel their business is doing. Lastly, our Value of Jobs messages continue to resonate and we will focus on expanding our reach with the release of additional economic studies in the coming year.

I’d also like to congratulate Mark Petchey of Faithful+Gould for winning the 2012-13 membership survey Southwest Airlines ticket giveaway! And thanks to everyone who submitted feedback; your responses are valued!

Leading this organization over the past 12 months has been a wonderful experience and I have the Alliance board and its entire membership to thank for that. I am leaving the organization in excellent hands with Gregg Kantor, President & CEO of NW Natural, as the incoming board chair. Gregg will be an outstanding leader for the Alliance.

Thanks again to the Alliance board of directors and all of its members. With your ongoing support and involvement, I know we can continue to make an impact to strengthen the business community and improve our region’s quality of life.
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