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Chair's Blog

Looking ahead at job growth in our region August 2014
By Debbie Kitchin
As a Portland Business Alliance board member for many years, it is a huge honor to lead this organization as its new board chair. In my years on the board and serving as the Alliance's Small Business Chair, I have watched this organization continue to grow and lead as the voice for business in the region. In the coming year, I am excited to guide the Alliance in its efforts to support small business entrepreneurship and its mission to grow family-wage jobs.
In the coming year, the board's focus will be around growing the region's middle-income jobs. Our primary mission as an organization is job growth, and over the past year, we have seen a trend both nationally and locally called income polarization. This means that there is a gap between high-end and low-end job growth, and as a result we are losing those middle income jobs that provide employment for the majority of families.
In Oregon, manufacturing and international trade are the backbone of our economy. These industries are also significant generators of middle income jobs. Consequently, I'd like to see the Alliance focus on raising the profile of traded-sector growth and manufacturing and export industries to help companies in these areas grow middle-income jobs. We are home to 100 year-old manufacturing companies that are innovating and competing globally. These companies and the jobs they provide are the stepping stone to family prosperity.
The Alliance conducted research on the traded-sector and manufacturing industry through its Value of Jobs work, which has proven that both these areas are vital to the Portland-metro economy. This year, we plan to explore these sectors more, specifically the role they play in supporting middle-income jobs.
Another area I will bring to my new role is an emphasis on small business. I run a family-owned small construction business with my husband Jim. As a small business owner and a longtime Alliance member, I've been involved in many policy issues facing small business and have received great value from using the Alliance as a resource and voice for my business. The Alliance does a great job supporting its members of all sizes and recognizes that small and large businesses need each other to prosper. I look forward to bringing this perspective and expertise to my role as chair.
Over the next year, you will continue to see us in the forefront of the conversation around middle-income jobs and small business growth. With your ongoing support and involvement, I know we can continue to make an impact to strengthen our business community and improve our region's quality of life.
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