Portland is always said to be an incredibly collaborative place. With all kinds of organizations designed to foster that collaboration. But until recently, we didn’t really seem to have an organization that facilitated collaboration among startups and government. Until Business for a Better Portland came along.
It’s hard to believe, but Business for a Better Portland is turning two already. And like any milestone, it calls for a bit of celebrating. That’s why the organization — now more than 300 companies strong — is gathering the community for the BBPDX 2nd Birthday.
Portland is nothing if not collaborative. So it would only make sense that a bunch of the Portland startup community would band together to help welcome the newest startup support organization in to town, WeWork Labs Portland. And what better way to show that support than to gather in celebration of the launch of the project.
Speaking of sharing business books that aren’t just a list of homogenous authors, a new book by Portland author Rhodes Perry, an LGBTQ business owner who consults on inclusion, has hit the virtual bookshelves. And given the conversations we’re having and the concerns in the Portland startup community, the timing couldn’t be better. So if you’re looking for some business book reading during your holiday downtime, you might consider Belonging At Work: Everyday Actions You Can Take to Cultivate an Inclusive Organization.
One of the consistent Portland themes I always mention is the concept of “accidental entrepreneurship.” By that I mean, the innumerable creative folks in town who were inspired to build something to solve a problem they had simply for the sake of solving it. And then someone or someones said, “Hey, I’d pay for that.” And suddenly, they’re a startup.
Startup folks, am I right? They’re always thinking of creative solutions to problems. And in Portland, unlike some of our differently motivated neighbors to the south, they’re often thinking about solutions that make life better for everyone in our community. Like Business for a Better Portland. An ad hoc chamber of commerce that sprung out of a desire to inform a collaborative—rather than contentious—model of public-private partnership.
I always say that the Portland startup community is big enough to be statistically relevant, but not so large that you can’t move the needle. So the fact that our community is severely lacking in terms of diversity and inclusion presents both a problem and an opportunity for the community. Part of the solution must include ensuring that everyone has access to resources and support that give all entrepreneurs the greatest chance of success. That was the motivation behind Prosper Portland’s Inclusive Business Resource Network.
Historically, Portland’s transportation system and lack of congestion have served as hallmarks of effective metropolitan planning. But as an ever increasing population puts additional strain on our existing infrastructure, it’s going to take some creative approaches to resolve congestion in an affordable and equitable way. And business has a role to play. That’s why Business for a Better Portland is hosting a discussion about Portland’s transportation future.
You’ve noticed it. It’s difficult not to. As Portland has grown in popularity and population, congestion, traffic, and even crowded public transit are becoming more the norm than the exception in the City of Roses. It impacts everyone. And rising housing costs only exacerbate the problem, as the distance between work and home continues to expand. If you run a business, you’re seeing the impact from a variety of angles, from consumers to employees—especially when one of the primary hiring promises has been Portland’s “livability.”
If you’re interested in where the economic development dollars in Oregon are being focused, there’s a new five year strategic plan from Business Oregon that sheds some light on those activities. Thumbing through it quickly, it looks to be good news for startups in the state.