City officials meet and mingle with outer SE Portland businesspeople

See why the annual Midway Business Association Luncheon attracted more than 60 business people – plus governmental leaders who have an impact on business in the area …

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish is greeted by Midway Business Association President Bill Dayton of Pizza Baron, at the Annual Luncheon.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The offering of a pizza buffet was one of the draws for the Midway Business Association (MBA) Annual Luncheon on June 12. Another was to meet and greet members of the Portland City Council and other officials at the Pizza Baron restaurant.

When MBA President Bill Dayton called the formal meeting to order, just after noon, he announced that Sunday, September 16, is the date set for the organization’s annual public event, the “End of Summer Cruise-in”; and invited everyone to come.

  • See our story regarding last year’s Cruise-in: CLICK HERE.

 

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz greets the businesspeople of southern outer East Portland.

After self-introductions, Dayton introduced Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

“I’ve had the honor of serving on the City Council for 3½ years,” Fritz began. “Last year when I came to the MBA Annual Luncheon, VP David Edwards invited me to become a member. Of course, I leapt at the opportunity. It goes to show that sometimes by asking, you shall receive!”

[Note: MBA records show that Commissioner Fritz paid her membership with personal funds.]

“This is a wonderful community,” Fritz continued. “I was discussing this with some of our folks. East Portland is definitely on the map; on everybody’s ‘radar screen’.  We’re making some significant progress here over the last three years on the Portland City Council, that recognizes that this area has had ‘underinvestment’ for decades; and we need to correct that.

After a recent East Portland Action Plan presentation to City Council, Fritz said, the Commissioners voted to continue funding the program.

“And, this business district is evidence of how people coming together can make a huge difference in your neighborhood – in our neighborhood. The City Council members are elected citywide, so I’m as responsible for this area as where I live, in deep Southwest Portland, where there are many similar challenges.”

Members and guests listen and learn what their City leaders say they’ve been doing for Portland and the eastside area.

She’s holding high hopes for success from the allied Division/Midway Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative program, Fritz added.

“It’s not about doing things by yourselves,” Fritz wrapped up. “It’s about all of us working together, making connections with the Portland Development Commission, the neighborhood associations, and all of those components that make a truly livable community, as we have here in East Portland. I’m very happy to be here today; and thank you for your partnership as we continue to grow.”

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman speaks to the MBA.

“I’m also on the Portland City Council,” began Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, after his introduction. “It’s great to be here with you at the Midway Business Association today.

“There are two topics I want to touch on, that are of importance – especially to small business owners here today,” Saltzman said. “First, just last week, the Portland City Council adopted the ‘Outer Powell Boulevard Design Concept Plan’.”

  • See our story, “Neighbors’ Outer Powell Blvd. Plan suggestions adopted – for now”: CLICK HERE.

 

“This area is from SE 99th Avenue all the way east to SE 174th Avenue,” Saltzman continued. “It will enhance traffic flow, sidewalks, and bike lanes. I will say right up front – we don’t have the funding in place to do this work. But now we do have the design concept, which is needed to secure state funding.”

Dan Saltzman brings news about the City Council’s efforts to reduce taxes on small businesses.

Turning to City taxation, Saltzman continued, “I’m hoping that, before Mayor Sam Adams leaves office, the City Council will increase the ‘Owners Compensation’ deduction level in the City’s Business License tax.”

Currently, Saltzman explained, the compensation deduction is about $75,000 – meaning an owner isn’t taxed on the first $75,000.

“Right, now I think [all of the City Council members] believe that amount should be raised to $225,000. Mayor Adams says he wants to get this done before he leaves, and I think it’s high time that the City Council does this.”

None of them sat together, points out Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, when observing that three of his colleagues were also attending the luncheon.

“It’s a pleasure working with Dan [Saltzman] and Amanda [Fritz],” Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish said, as he began his remarks. “For those of you following the election cycle, Dan and I actually have 2½ more years left on our terms – we’re not up until 2014. Amanda is on the ballot this fall.

“Speaking personally, as a citizen, I sincerely hope that Amanda Fritz comes back to rejoin our team next year; she is a tremendous colleague.”

“I second that!” Dan Saltzman interjected.

Fish took notice, and with a big grin continued, “Hey, I guess we have enough [City Council] members here to put it to a vote!  Actually Dan points out something interesting – something you may not believe, but is absolutely true. This is the first time that three members of the Portland city Council have ever appeared at a business association together!”

Turning to the kickoff of the Portland Parks & Recreation’s (PP&R) “Summer Free-for-All” program, Parks Commissioner Fish said, “We’re bringing programs for everybody, thanks to the generosity of public spirited businesses and individuals who have contributed about $1.5 million of direct and in-kind support.”

These programs include free movies, free concerts, and free swims at PP&R pools. “It is our biggest and best program ever.  And, this includes a playground program where families can drop off a child during the day, and they will be supervised.  Here’s the key: The child will get a healthy meal.”

Holding up a “Summer Free-for-All” brochure, Fish commented, “Commissioner Fritz earlier circled all the programs here in East Portland, there are ton of them.  Please take a full advantage of these great activities.

Next, Fish commended Dan Saltzman, the previous Commissioner of Parks, for his leadership in the building of the East Portland Community Center’s Aquatic Center. “I used to call it our ‘greenest pool’ in the system – but that doesn’t sound right, does it? It is our most sustainable pool.”

Commissioner Fish pitches the Parks Bureau’s expanded “Summer Free-for-All” program, highlighting activities in outer East Portland.

Calling it “an honor” to be Parks Commissioner, Fish said he looks forward to the time the City floats a bond measure to build parks “for which everyone in outer East Portland has so patiently has waited.” He did tell how the “E-205 Initiative” is adding value to many mid-County parks.

  • See our story, “City Commissioner lays out East Portland parks improvement scheme”: CLICK HERE.

 

“The next round of E-205 Initiative improvements during this summer will be to East Holladay, Lynchwood, Argay, Glenfair, Gilbert Primary, and Cherry parks,” announced Fish. “We’ll be doing things like putting in children’s play equipment, new basketball courts, lighting, water fountains – priorities most asked for by residents. Thanks to my colleagues, for setting aside money in the budget last year to jumpstart this program.”

Fish also touted the opening of PP&R’s 44th Community Garden next to the Portland Memory Garden in Ed Benedict Park. [CLICK HERE to read about it.]

Saying the City has been lacking in Bureau of Development Services housing inspectors, Fish stated, “To make sure that everyone lives in a safe and decent place, thanks to Dan’s leadership and Council’s support, we now have additional rental housing inspectors; and they’ll be targeting East Portland.”

Concluding his remarks, Fish again saluted Saltzman, Commissioner in charge of the Bureau of Development Services, for leading an effort to relieve single-family home developers from paying “system development fees” up front – instead deferring the charges until when the home is sold.

David Edwards presents the MBA “membership opportunity”.

Taking a brief break between speakers, MBA VP David Edwards, of David Edwards Insurance, thanked members and guests for attending the Annual Luncheon. “And, it’s good to see many fresh faces. There are many new businesses and ventures going on in the neighborhood. I thank the City Commissioners for coming today; that they’re here is a testament to their belief in our area.”

Edwards also encouraged non-members to join. “”We’ve lots of membership applications. If you’re inclined, we would love to have you become involved in the Midway Business Association, and be part of the exciting things happening in the neighborhood.”

Guest speaker Patrick Quinton, Executive Director of the Portland Development Commission, begins his remarks.

To wrap up the meeting, featured speaker Patrick Quinton, Executive Director of  the Portland Development Commission, addressed the group – many of which were enjoying their second helping of pizza.

“We’re here to talk about the work we’re doing,” Quinton said. “It’s especially an honor to be speaking at the first-ever [business association] gathering of three City Commissioners. It is a special day,” he quipped.

“Here, we’re in one of our new Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative (NPI) districts.  It is a centerpiece of our neighborhood economic development work.”

  • See our story, “East Portland ‘prosperity district’ programs unveiled”: CLICK HERE.

“The City Council has voted approval of these six new urban renewal areas. We think that is good for the future of the neighborhoods. There are lots of critics of urban renewal these days; it takes courage to support it publicly. These districts are supported by City general funds.”

About the NPI program, Quinton said it was “an attempt to rethink how we do neighborhood economic development; addressing a number of issues. First and foremost was to get dollars to outer East Portland – areas we acknowledge have not received an adequate share of public investment over the past couple of decades.

“The second thing is to recognize the places where the issues that challenged neighborhoods most have [demographically] shifted over the past couple of decades.”

Quinton went on, “True neighborhood development doesn’t occur from City Hall, it doesn’t occur from our building in Old Town.  This initiative represents a new way of doing business for us, and for the City.

NPI districts much raise matching funds to get access to the NPI “pot of money”, Patrick Quinton says.

Each NPI district has the opportunity to access a “pot of money” over the next 10 years averaging from $50,000-$100,000 per year Quinton said. “This is ‘seed money’ to realize your vision for this district. Our job is to provide this money and technical assistance – help support your vision. Each district is moving toward its own vision; it is fantastic.”

Each NPI district will, Quinton pointed out, be expected to raise $30,000 “matching funds” to “support the administrative cost. I think David Edwards is already donated office space to your district’s effort, we appreciate him helping it get off the ground.

“I know the $30,000 seems like a high hurdle,” Quinton acknowledged, and added that his staff is working with banks and other funding sources to help the districts to obtain their matching fund.

Wrapping up his talk, Quinton said, “The City Council believes in this approach to urban renewal – as well as, now, Multnomah County. In the past they were not too keen on urban renewal, but now [Multnomah County Board Chair] Jeff Cogen and the County Commissioners have been most helpful in getting this program up and running.”

Bill Dayton again reminds those present of the upcoming “End of Summer Cruise-in” in September.

Meet the Members
The Midway Business Association doesn’t meet in July, but welcomes guests to the August 14 meeting, held at noon, at Pizza Baron, SE 122nd Avenue at SE Division Street.

For more information about the MBA, or to learn more about their “End of Summer Cruise-in” see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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