July 9th, 2009

Portland Economic Development Strategy passes, City formally recognizes open source, mobile, coworking, and startup communities


Portland Economic Development Strategy passes, City formally recognizes open source, mobile, coworking, and startup communities

While the news coming out of yesterday’s Portland City Council meeting will likely be mired in heated he-said she-said debates about the fate of the 39th Avenue / Cesar Chavez hoopla, something very important happened late in the day: Portland’s City Council unanimously passed the Portland Economic Development Strategy.

Why is this so momentous? Well, aside from being the first publicly recognized economic strategy for Portland in 15 years, it’s the first time that Portland has formally recognized the open source, mobile, coworking, and startup community. And that’s a big step forward. As Eva Schweber says, we should be proud.

Even though we offered no testimony, we had the largest representation from any industry. City Council and their staff knew most of the folks in that room today (myself included) because we are the ones who show up at every one of these meetings. We are all pretty clear on what perspective each of us represents and know what is going to be said before any of us open our mouths. Actions speak louder than words. The open source, mobile and startup (seriously, we need a better moniker) representatives who came to today’s meeting sent a very clear message. We are here and we are ready to take our seat at the table.

I’d recommend reading the whole Portland Economic Development Strategy document (PDF). It’s not long. And the Mayor’s Office and Portland Development Commission (PDC) did a great job of keeping approachable and intelligible.

Not interested in reading the whole thing? At least read pages 12-13 which focus on the Software Cluster for the Portland area. It looks a little something like this:

portland-economic-development-strategy-software-cluster

Now granted, the open source, mobile, coworking, and startup section of the document is relatively small, covering about a page-and-a-half. But the size of the section isn’t really the issue. This is still important. Again, I say “momentous.”

Why? It’s momentous because this is the first time—to my knowledge—that the City of Portland has formally recognized the open source development community, the mobile app development community, and the Web application development community. They’ve even recognized the importance of coworking environments to our community—putting them on the same footing as traditionally recognized organizations like the PDC, the Software Association of Oregon (SAO), and Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN). And in that recognition, they have made a formal commitment to support that tech community.

That means, that with the ratification of the document, the City has put a stake in the ground. It has recognized what you are doing. And it has deemed it important enough to be committed to public record. Long story short, the City of Portland—in theory—is now behind you and explicitly interested in your success.

That is huge. And for that, you should be incredibly proud of what you’ve accomplished.

Now, the real work begins

Now we need to help move the City from strategy to implementation. And just as Mayor Sam Adams asked the open source community to better engage with the City of Portland so must the mobile development community, the coworking community, and the startup community find ways to engage and interact with the City. We have to find ways to organize and present a united front. Because if we don’t, we risk losing a huge opportunity.

I know we can do it. And I’m looking forward to helping. However I can.

But that will come together. For now please, take a few seconds to bask in this moment. This is a very big deal. It’s a big deal for the Portland open source community. It’s a big deal for the burgeoning mobile development market. And it’s a big deal for each and every startup that calls Portland home today—and in the future.

Thank you, again, to Mayor Sam Adams and his office for reaching out to the Portland tech community. Thank you to Eva Schweber for spending countless hours as the resident wonk for the open source, mobile, coworking, and startup community. And congratulations to each and every one of you.

Now, it’s up to us. Let’s make something happen.

Background that may help (or may not)

19 Responses to “Portland Economic Development Strategy passes, City formally recognizes open source, mobile, coworking, and startup communities”

  1. mediaChick says:

    This is such good news for people like me! I have a huge need for applications that don’t exist yet, and a desire to promote the talent of my beloved Portland. Now I can see both of these actually happening.

    What can I do to help the open source, mobile, co-working and startup communities thrive so I can use their stuff in my project?

  2. Aaron Smith says:

    I propose the term MOSS be used to refer to the mobile, open source, startup community in Portland. Moss grows…on trees…in forests…etc.

    What are we without a good acronym?

  3. Reggie Wideman says:

    If you’re not starting a formal association why bury yourselves under an acronym that becomes outdated the moment you put the site up and call your first meeting. Mobile, Open Source and Startups is the right place to start, but no one knows if these groups or terms are going to stick or truly represent the audience we are trying to support and grow.

    If you’re going to name it, name it something universal like Portland Tech (not my proposal) and focus your energy on building the message behind the name. “An organzation for and about the Mobile, Open Source and Startup Community.”

  4. Careful, MOSS is typically associated with Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server.

    Oh wait, screw those guys, let’s take it over!

  5. Steve Gehlen says:

    There is a new YouTube video about the Portland Economic Development Strategy.

    Open source is mentioned and Jive Software’s Dave Hersh is featured, as is Icebreaker, the company I will soon be joining as the General Manager of Global eCommerce.

    See the clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnO0WDHnjA4

  6. Mike McClure says:

    In all endeavours, a simply and catchy name is important for uptake.

    I like “The Portland COSMOS” (Community of Startups, Mobile & Open Source).
    Where, the C could equally be Co-working.

  7. Bill Reid says:

    I applaud the City on getting a Strategy out there, but this is the first one in my professional career I have ever seen of a major city that is entirely self-focused. No regional role, partners, efforts, action steps, etc. to be a strong economic friend and neighbor of other Cities, industries, entities (Port, etc.) for pursuing joint funding opportunities for the toolkit. And as the hub, Portland’s professional/technical services industries only stand to benefit by strong neighbor partners. The silence is deafening.

    Oh, well. Something is better than nothing.

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  10. [...] summer, many people rejoiced in the fact that the City of Portland had chosen to adopt the Portland Economic Development Strategy. Those of us around here were especially happy that a portion of that Strategy contained the [...]

  11. [...] summer, many people rejoiced in the fact that the City of Portland had chosen to adopt the Portland Economic Development Strategy. Those of us around here were especially happy that a portion of that Strategy contained the [...]

  12. [...] of Portland stumble with the creative community only to rebound in grand fashion by stepping up to support both the Web and mobile startup scene and the open source [...]

  13. [...] City’s Economic Development Strategy was released and ratified, identifying software as one of their key economic development “cluster” [...]

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  17. [...] the Portland tech community is seeing traction with the municipal government, as well. In fact, the City of Portland has formally recognized the startup tech community as a critical component of its economic development [...]


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