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Chair's Blog

Downtown Portland has it all this holiday season December 2012
By Dennis Rawlinson

The holiday season is upon us and downtown Portland is welcoming this time of year with holiday 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.

The holiday lighting program, the idea of Alliance board member and Association for Portland Progress Chair, Clayton Hering, began more than a decade ago.  Downtown property owners and managers fund these twinkling holiday lights on more than 700 trees in downtown.  The lights are the highly efficient, LED variety. 

In addition to the lights, there were a few new features added over the past couple of weeks to the downtown retail core’s streetscape. As part of the Downtown Retail Strategy, the Alliance and the Clean & Safe District have helped fund new banners on SW Yamhill and Morrison streets branding the new Pioneer District, along with new planters containing native Pacific Northwest plants. Improvements like these help define downtown Portland’s retail core, which contributes to a greater goal of a strong regional economy.

Members of the Downtown Retail Strategy working group, which includes the Clean & Safe District and the Portland Business Alliance, recently testified before Portland City Council, highlighting the achievements of the strategy’s four-year initiative. Led by Mayor Sam Adams, the strategy had a goal of creating a clear retail destination downtown in what is now branded as the Pioneer District. Along with physical streetscape improvements, tactics included supportive marketing, targeted retail recruitment and strategic investments in redevelopment projects. And, as a result of the Downtown Retail Strategy, a recent survey disclosed that about 68 percent of the region’s residents have a positive impression of downtown.

All this and more contributes to the importance of an active and healthy downtown. Results from the Clean & Safe District’s 2011 Business Census and Survey, which were recently released, 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 eleventh year in a row, a large majority of downtown business owners feel that downtown is clean and safe.

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.  Support our downtown retail core!

While we have been working to make downtown an extra festive place for the holidays, we’ve also been continuing our Value of Jobs effort.  We recently released our third annual regional economic check-up. I hope you will take a minute or two to read through the report and learn how our economy is currently performing.

As always, thank you for your support of the Alliance and all of its initiatives. Happy holidays!
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