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Chair's Blog

Springing into summer with a focus on our members May 2014
By Gregg Kantor

The past couple of months have been some of the busiest for the Portland Business Alliance. We wrapped up our largest event of the year, the Annual Breakfast, and led yet another successful trip to Washington, D.C., and we worked on a challenging issue in the city of Portland; the funding of street maintenance.
Our Annual Breakfast event gathered more than 1,000 people to celebrate the work the Alliance has done over the past year. This year, we focused on health care and heard from keynote speaker Bernard J. Tyson, CEO and Chairman of Kaiser Permanente, about his vision for health care reform and what he sees ahead for Kaiser in Oregon. We also heard from Governor John Kitzhaber about the transformation of health care in Oregon. And, we released a new Value of Jobs report on Portland-metro’s health care industry revealing that this sector is a bright spot in our economy. You can read the study here.

The Alliance hosted its annual trip to Washington D.C. May 21-23 and, for the second year, teamed up with Oregon Business Plan partners, the Oregon Business Council, Associated Oregon Industries and the Oregon Business Association, to present a statewide federal agenda to Oregon’s congressional representatives. This was our largest group yet, with nearly 50 representatives meeting with federal legislators and administration officials to discuss priority issues identified as key for the Oregon Business Plan. With two days in the nation’s capital, the group discussed international trade, federal forest management, immigration reform, infrastructure and manufacturing/career training.

In the last few weeks, we have also spent a considerable amount of time working with city leaders and others on the future of street maintenance in Portland. The Alliance agrees that our city’s streets are in bad condition and need attention and repair, and we have signaled that we are prepared to work with them on options for funding that work. We were concerned, however, that the proposal for a new street maintenance fee, raising some $50 million in revenue, was moving too quickly through Council, and there are a lot of questions about how the fee will be applied and the revenue spent. Council members appear ready to rethink the plan, and we will continue to work with them on it.

I want to thank all of the Alliance members who answered our action alert and sent City Council a note about this issue. We had an impact.

As my time as chair winds down, I can tell you that it has been a busy and challenging year. We have worked on a number of issues, and we have always kept our eye on our most important objective: being responsive to our members and growing our base. With 1,700 members, the Alliance is Oregon’s largest business organization, and that makes us a strong voice for all of you.

As we end the year, we are redoubling our efforts to grow our membership. So far during the 2013-14 fiscal year, 325 new members have joined the Alliance! We would like to invite you to participate in helping us close out this year strong. One way you can help is to be part of the Alliance’s Alaska Airlines Membership Referral Program. Simply refer a potential member company to the Alliance by June 13 and, if the company is not already a member, you’ll be entered to win two tickets on Alaska Airlines. The winner will be announced at the Forum on June 18.

Serving as chair of this great organization has been a tremendous honor. Next month, I will pen my last column, and, in anticipation of that, I want to say thank you to all of our members for making the Alliance a strong voice for business.
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