Small business, big opportunities

Small business, big opportunities

Small business development is central to what we do at the Portland Business Alliance. Nearly 80 percent of our 1,900 member businesses have fewer than 50 employees. At the Alliance, our small business members have a seat at the table at board meetings and on our committees; access to local, state and federal elected leaders; and hundreds of opportunities to grow their businesses through networking events and programs specifically designed to help them succeed. 

The success of our small business members is critical to achieving our mission: To retain and grow a diverse business community and advocate for smart public policy that fosters economic competitiveness through access to stable, family-wage jobs in our region.

It’s common knowledge, though, that starting and operating a successful small business is an uphill battle, even in a good economy.

Scholarships available to help small businesses reach the next level

That’s why the Alliance sponsors the Small Business Management Scholarship Program in partnership with Portland Community College’s Small Business Development Center. The program works with 12 small-business owners looking to take their business to the next level. They also need to have been in business for three to five years and have at least one employee. The program is funded through grants from the Alliance Charitable Institute, Bank of America and Willamette University MBA.

During the one-year program, participants work with a qualified business mentor and other small-business owners to learn about topics such as sourcing capital and financing; marketing and financial management; and expanding into new markets. Each small-business owner receives a $1,300 scholarship toward the $1,800 course tuition, as well as a two-year small business-level membership with the Alliance.

If those topics pique your interest, you can apply for the scholarship online at The deadline to submit an application is Friday, Sept. 28.

No-cost professional business advising available

Our scholarship program isn’t the only way we support small businesses through our partnership with PCC’s Small Business Development Center. We’re proud to continue offering advising to small businesses at no cost, thanks to the support of Bank of America and Willamette University MBA. Conducted by professional business advisers, the one-hour sessions are open to any small-business owner and cover a variety of topics related to growing a healthy business.

We’re listening to the needs of our small businesses

This fall, the Alliance is launching a pilot listening tour for small businesses that will make it even easier for our members to inform our daily advocacy work on their behalves. We’re going out to different parts of the region, business districts and neighborhoods to hear directly from small-business owners about the obstacles they face, and how we can help them keep moving forward. Our first stop, was hosted at Peak Mortgage on NE Fremont on Monday, Sept. 24.
We want to hear from you: What’s working? What’s not?

To learn more about the Alliance’s small business programs and services — including making a free advising appointment or attending our first small business tour — please email Alliance membership coordinator, Rebecca McCulloch at [email protected].

When our small businesses succeed, we all benefit

We recognize the value small business products and services contribute to Portland’s global reputation as a harbor for aspiring entrepreneurs. They are essential to the fabric of our shared economy, just like our larger member businesses. Small and large businesses are dependent on the others’ success. Typically, programs and policies that are good for small companies are also good for corporations.

The Portland Business Alliance is an organization that welcomes businesses of all sizes and ages, from across all industries, from every corner of the region and from every ideological persuasion. It is our hope that the business community will remain united in our common goal of prosperity for all, and the Alliance is ready to help advance prosperity every chance we can.