Meet the East Portland Chamber of Commerce

This is the first in a weekly series introducing you to outer East Portland business organizations. You’ll be amazed to see all the good these folks do for our community‚

Whether or not a new business belongs to the East Portland Chamber of Commerce, the group’s Ambassadors will provide a welcoming and ribbon-cutting ceremony. Here, the ribbon is being cut, marking the opening of Riverview Bank–a new chamber member in the Gateway area.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Although it came into being only in 2003, the East Portland Chamber of Commerce (EPCC) has grown to a membership of 175. For many years, this organization was a committee of the Gresham Chamber of Commerce.

The EPCC serves businesspeople from the Willamette River east to Gresham. It serves to enhance commerce throughout the area, rather than to compete with other business districts that fall within its borders.

East Portland Chamber of Commerce President Greg Zuffrea.

Why the chamber was formed
We asked current president, Greg Zuffrea, why this organization was established, when greater Portland already has a chamber of commerce.

“An important role of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce,” Zuffrea told us, “is to be a voice for business throughout our East Portland community. The downtown chamber focuses on downtown Portland issues. The Gresham Chamber focuses on outer East Multnomah County issues.”

Traditionally, Zuffrea said, Portland city government is most responsive to issues affecting downtown Portland. “While the core area of the city is important to our region, it is also imperative that the specific needs and concerns of East Portland be addressed by city government.”

The East Portland Chamber has succeeded in bringing Portland’s elected officials and other government leaders out to East Portland, added Zuffera. “We’ve helped to focus their attention on eastside issues, ranging from crime, to better streets and public services. Obviously, everyone — residents and business people — benefit from this increased attention.”

The annual EPCC Golf Tournament is always a big hit. Here, the Chamber’s membership chair, Richard Sorem, gets ready to make his swing.

Helping East Portland prosper
The East Portland Chamber is important to the community, because its programs and activities enable small businesses to grow and prosper.

Small businesses are the economic backbone of east Portland. We learned that 95% of the 13,920 businesses in east Portland are small businesses. About one-third of them average 15 employees each , and, fully two-thirds of our small businesses are micro-enterprises, each averaging two employees.

“The health of the small business is directly related to the economic health of the community, through jobs, taxes, and volunteer time from business owners and their employees,” commented the Chamber’s Governmental Affairs Chair, Ken Turner. “That base of volunteers supplements and sustains the educational, social, cultural, religious, and recreational organizations and activities that sustain and enhance the quality of life in our community.”

The East Portland Chamber Cabaret and Minstrels groups put on fun shows to raise money for charitable causes.

Programs benefiting the community
The Chamber supports ongoing community charitable activities such as soliciting food donations from chamber members for Sno-CAP.

Additionally, a group of chamber members who call themselves the East Portland Minstrels provide entertainment to community organizations. They use their entertainment talents to raise money for charitable causes, such as the Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp for Disabled Children and Adults.

The Chamber’s annual golf tournament provides a social setting in which local business people can mingle with political leaders and celebrities. The annual Chamber Golf Tournament for 2007 will be held at the Colwood Golf Course on June 15.

A goal of the chamber is to create a special event within the next year, to raise money for a local educational or charitable organization.

Featured businesses people
Classique Floors‚ Judith Huck, the owner of this well-respected outer East Portland business, has built her company by providing top quality counter and flooring solutions for decades. Anyone who has visited the beautiful new store at 14240 SE Stark has seen the wide variety of top-quality materials Classique Floors can supply.

Thus, Huck has created a firm that provides stable family-wage jobs for its employees. And, Huck and her staff give back to the community, helping with projects at Snow-CAP and Habitat for Humanity.

Chamber member Holly Moss kids around with Richard Kiely who donated this brand-new electric guitar to help raise funds for a community event.

Home Run Graphics‚ Richard Kiely provides quality lithography for businesses and other organizations all over the Portland area. But, beyond his business, Kiely is a tireless community volunteer, working with his neighborhood association, SE Works, and charitable organizations.

When he sees an un-met need in the community, Kiely steps up and leads the charge to fill that need. Right now, he’s sponsoring a “Hole-In-One Contest” at the Chamber’s June golfing tournament, at which a skillful (and lucky) duffer will drive home a brand new car from Gresham Ford–if they make the shot!

Come meet the Chamber
The East Portland Chamber of Commerce holds a free networking meeting it calls “Good Morning East Portland” every Wednesday morning from 7:30 a.m. until 9:00 a.m.  Neighbors are always welcome to attend.

At least once a month, a City of Portland official comes from downtown to listen to outer East Portland concerns. Because the meetings are hosted by different members, the location changes from week to week. Where’s it this week? Check their web site:!

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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