Keeping the heart of the Rose City healthy for all

Keeping the heart of the Rose City healthy for all

This column first appeared in the Portland Tribune on March 25. 

Civic engagement can transform a community across generations. The impact of people coming together to simply find ways to keep the place we call home welcoming and vibrant is something I’ve had the honor to witness throughout my career. I am excited to continue to do so in my new role at Downtown Portland Clean & Safe and the Portland Business Alliance.

Just two weeks in as executive director Downtown Portland Clean & Safe, I can honestly say I am energized and inspired by the many community partners who prioritize making downtown Portland a valued place to be each and every day.

Keeping the heart of the Rose City clean, safe, and an exciting destination for residents and visitors alike, relies on all of us working together. This is work I am incredibly passionate about. I join the team after recently serving as president and CEO of the statewide nonprofit, SOLVE where I thrived on finding innovative ways to bring people together to protect Oregon’s natural spaces through litter cleanup, invasive plant removal and native tree and shrub plantings.

I believe it is all of our responsibility to care for this place we call home and commit to doing our part in ensuring the long term vitality of where we live.

Downtown Portland’s Clean & Safe district encompasses 213 blocks in the heart of Portland. It started 30 years ago because businesses wanted to do their part to keep the core of our city welcoming. And as one of the first enhanced services districts in the nation, this group has repeatedly led the charge of innovative problem solving through public-private partnerships.

I am quickly realizing we do so much and I would guess few know of the many services and community programs we support. From the development of the cleaners who are themselves transitioning off the streets and back into the workforce with the assistance of the team at Central City Concern. To the remarkable work of attracting and retaining retail business to our central shopping district.

We are at a historic low vacancy rate and businesses are continuing to move into the area contributing to the overall vibrancy that makes downtown a special place to be. Just last year, we helped set the table for 40 new businesses to move into downtown Portland. Three months into 2019 we are at 15 and counting for new retail shops and restaurants establishing business in the heart of Portland.

We provide safety, working closely with private security and Portland Police to openly problem solve concerns as they arise. We work closely with the neighborhood district attorney and community court to identify repeat offenders and help them get access to the resources they need to live productive lives.

Each year we publish a variety of reports to track how construction and occupancy rates of office, residential and retail are doing in our region’s densest urban core. And we ask businesses how they’re doing, conducting an annual Business Census & Survey to gauge concerns and employment across the central city. Just last year, we surpassed a record number of 102,361 jobs in the Central City. A remarkable moment that articulates not only the thriving economy but the energy that is bustling through our city streets.
There is incredible opportunity for us to collectively improve the perceptions (and realities) about downtown Portland and I am looking forward to working with partners new and old on making downtown Portland THE place to be.

We strive “to be the stewards for the protection and operation of downtown Portland as an attractive, safe, and vibrant place in which to work, shop, live and play.” This is a mission I’m truly proud to champion.

Downtown Portland’s future is bright and it is rewarding to see that the steps we are taking today will continue to have long-term benefits for our city’s future. It is an honor to engage in this work with all of you.

NOTE: Maureen Fisher joined the team at Portland Business Alliance & Downtown Portland Clean & Safe in March 2019 after the retirement of executive director Lynnae Berg. For more information on the programs and services provided, visit:

Join the community: Twitter: @indowntownpdx Instagram: @downtownpdx Facebook: @downtownportland