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.
Throughout my career, I’ve been incredibly lucky to be surrounded by amazing founders, mentors, and peers. Many of whom happened to be women. And all of whom rarely received the recognition or accolades they deserve. That’s why it’s always nice to see efforts to raise the visibility of businesswomen. Like the Portland Business Journal’s Women of Influence awards.
Truth be told, I can’t even spell entrepreneurship. (I used spellcheck for that.) But there are many folks who can. Among them, there are even a few who understand all the ups and downs of the rollercoaster that is starting a business. And among them, are a select few who recognize and understand the potential impact government can have on startup ecosystems. And Business Oregon wants to talk to those folks.