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Chair's Blog

Join us as Portland takes flight April 2016
By Mitch Hornecker

Business growth in the Portland region is taking off, and that is the central theme of this year’s Portland Business Alliance Annual Meeting, quickly approaching on Tuesday, May 3, at the Oregon Convention Center. If you haven’t yet bought your tickets, I encourage you to do that today online. Trust me, you won’t want to miss out this year!

In line with the event theme, “Portland Takes Flight,” we are thrilled to have Alaska Airlines President and CEO Brad Tilden provide the keynote address. As I’m sure you’ve seen, the Alaska Air Group recently announced plans to purchase Virgin America, a carrier with a presence in major California hubs like San Francisco and Los Angeles. Alaska Airlines and Virgin America both are strong brands with loyal followings. This acquisition will make Alaska the fifth-largest U.S. airline with the potential to become the largest carrier up and down the West Coast.

Throughout the event, we’ll focus on our region’s expected growth and the opportunities and challenges that come with it. Right now, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Portland-metro area ranks 13th among U.S. metro areas with the largest increase in new residents moving from elsewhere. The Portland region also is growing jobs faster than the national average for metro areas, with 7 percent growth between September 2014 and September 2015, according to the most recent Value of Jobs Economic Checkup. In fact, by September 2015, this region had not only regained the number of jobs lost during the recession, but we actually grew to 70,700 more jobs than we had in 2007.

All this growth isn’t surprising to anyone. Our region is well known for a high quality of life, vibrant industries, and a unique culture. The population influx already has brought new talent, fresh ideas and big investments, which should yield a cadre of new employers and jobs.

Yet with growth comes challenges that must be addressed if Portland is to preserve and build on everything that makes this region attractive. We’ll need to address key issues that come with growth like increased housing costs, more transportation, and solutions for our region’s persistent challenge sheltering the homeless. Underneath all these issues is the need to contain the rising costs of doing business here and to preserve and create more family-wage jobs.

Our community of policy makers, business leaders and civic groups will need to ponder and address these challenges and make hard decisions that will have a long-term impact on economic vitality in this region.

The Annual Meeting allows us time to reflect at the crossroads, yet it’s also an important time to stand up and celebrate businesses and leaders who are making a significant impact today. We look forward to presenting our annual Volunteer Awards, the Community Partner Award and the prestigious President’s Award. And while I’m not giving away any specifics here, there will also be some exciting prizes given away for those who like to “take flight” to exciting locales.  We hope to see you there!
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