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Chair's Blog

New chair focus' on growing jobs and a healthy downtown July 2013
By Gregg Kantor

Now into its new fiscal year, the Portland Business Alliance has a new set of officers, including myself, the chair of the board. I’m excited to lead the region’s leading business organization and support Alliance members in a variety of capacities. Throughout the next year, the Alliance will focus on its number one priority: Private-sector job retention and growth.  We will also continue our work, with our partners at the Clean & Safe District, on downtown livability issues.

The Alliance supports private-sector job retention and economic growth through Value of Jobs, which tells the story about how private-sector job retention and growth support a healthy and prosperous region.  The Value of Jobs Coalition’s work, which includes eight economic studies, candidate questionnaires and a voter scorecard, has changed how policy-makers, civic leaders, others in the business community and the general public talk about the economic health of our region.

We are working with the Value of Jobs Coalition on a schedule of new studies for this fiscal year, which include topics such as international trade, healthcare, and of course, our annual economic check-up. It is our hope that our members continue to stay engaged in the campaign by making it part of every conversation related to economic and job growth.

Along with job growth and economic vitality, the Alliance will continue to be deeply engaged in the issues affecting downtown livability. As the region’s leading business organization, we understand the importance of a strong, vibrant downtown and, therefore, make it a priority to advocate for nothing less. One way we are working to accomplish this is by strategizing with Mayor Charlie Hales on ways the city can better manage sidewalk behavior. We want to ensure that people suffering from homelessness get access to the services they need and that downtown sidewalks are accessible for everyone. This dual approach will help make downtown an even better place to live and work.

A big part of job growth and downtown livability comes from downtown retail development. This past year, we’ve seen an influx of more than 30 new local and national retailers in downtown, including CityTarget, Microsoft, Tasty & Alder, Michael Kors, Raven and Rose, among many others. In fact, CityTarget opened last week to the public.  At its opening, I spoke about what a great asset retailers, like Target, are to our city.

These new local and national retailers, restaurants and employers are evidence of the positive trends we are seeing downtown.  The Clean & Safe District released two reports earlier this month showing the strength and vibrancy of downtown: The annual pedestrian count showed a three percent increase over last June 2012, and the yearly Development/Redevelopment Report highlighted a healthy pipeline of projects completed, under construction or on the drawing board for central city. These reports are helpful in gauging economic vitality and recruiting new business to downtown. You can read the full reports here.

Over the next year, you will continue to see us in the forefront of the conversation around private-sector job growth and downtown livability. Thanks to you, our committed members, we will continue to work to make the Portland region a great place to do business.
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