Diversity boosts Portland's economy

Diversity boosts Portland's economy

Three leaders in the Portland business community discuss issues faced by minority businesses breakfast forum.

The success of small businesses owned by women and minorities is important for everyone, not just the people who own and work at them," says Gale Castillo, interim executive director of the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

"The workforce is growing more diverse," says Castillo. "It's about all of us making sure that everyone is successful."

Herb Yamamoto, the vice chair of the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs agrees.

"Everyone is in and no one is out," says Yamamoto, who also is the owner and CEO of BIM Connection, a Portland-based mechanical design firm.

Ana Chaud is an example of how the success of a single business can boost the regional economy. She founded and is the CEO of Garden Bar, a take-out salad restaurant that started with one location in the Pearl District in 2014 and will soon have 10 outlets throughout the region.

"I'm in the restaurant business. You want a job, I have them," says Chaud.

Castillo, Yamamoto and Chaud appeared on a panel titled "Small & Diverse Businesses Drive Our Economy" at the Portland Business Alliance's Jan. 16 breakfast forum.

Alliance Chair Dave Robertson started the discussion by saying that according to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, there are nearly 370,000 small businesses in Oregon — 99.4 percent of all businesses in the state. More than 40,000 of them are minority-owned, Robertson said.