Coffee with cofounders… and the Mayor: A few of the topics Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler covered at WeWork Labs Portland

The Portland startup community got the chance to hear from Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, this morning. Thanks to WeWork Labs Portland and its Manager Josh Carter — who also is the founder and lead organizer of Coffee w/ Co-Founders.

I had the opportunity to attend the standing room only session. And while I didn’t capture any direct quotes, I wanted to highlight some of the topics that the Mayor covered. (This list is by no means exhaustive. This is just what stuck with me.)

  • From my perspective, the most welcome message that came through loud and clear — and was underscored by the event, itself — was acknowledging entrepreneurs are too busy to go to government, so government needs to do a better job of going to them.
  • The mayor spent a good amount of time describing the work being done to increase the diversity and inclusiveness of the Portland startup community by funding and encouraging programs that focus on entrepreneurs from communities of color and entrepreneurs who identify as women.
  • To underscore that topic, he highlighted the work that Prosper Portland and its Inclusive Business Resource Network and Mercatus programs are doing to help make resources more accessible for a variety of entrepreneurs.
  • Recognizing that startups are overly busy, he encouraged folks to engage with public-private partnerships like the Portland IQ, which he mentioned he will be chairing, and professional business organizations like Business for a Better Portland.
  • He was also prompted to spend some time discussing Portland Means Progress, which he encouraged every business in attendance to join.
  • From a financing side, there was some discussion of the Portland tax environment — no sales tax as an example — and how it can be challenging to fund certain efforts, especially with growing problems like homelessness. Hence the need for raising business taxes.
  • He also reiterated a desire for local government to “buy local” when it comes to technology, solutions, and sourcing.

To be reminded of future sessions, please sign up for Coffee w/ Co-Founders.

[Full disclosure: I am the cofounder and general manager of PIE. PIE is part of the Prosper Portland Inclusive Business Resource Network and is partially funded by their grant dollars. I am a founding advisor to, and member of, Business for a Better Portland. And I staff the Startup Resources Working Group for the Portland IQ.]

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