Parkrose’s Neighborhood Prosperity District’s efforts revealed

Here’s the place to learn why the Historic Parkrose NPI was created – and what they’re doing …

Marsha Grabinger and Deborah Codino welcome members and guests to this Parkrose Business Association meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Parkrose Business Association (PBA) monthly meeting was called to order on October 17 at the Holiday Inn Airport by its president, Michael L. Taylor, a consultant at Leadership Works LLC and Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University.

Members serve themselves a delicious hot luncheon from the buffet set up at the Holiday Inn Airport Hotel.

After announcements, Taylor introduced the director of Historic Parkrose, Bridget Bayer.

“My last name is just like the aspirin: Bayer! I can handle all your headaches,” she quipped.

Historic Parkrose is the name for the area’s Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative (NPI) district funded primarily and overseen by the Portland Development Commission.

Bayer told how running a restaurant and catering service led her to work with Portland area Neighborhood Business District Associations for 12 years before being named the director of Historic Parkrose.

Historic Parkrose Director Bridget Bayer is introduced by PBA president Michael L. Taylor.

Historic Parkrose is a community-led nonprofit organization, funded primarily by the Portland Development Commission (PDC, through the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative.

“Its premise is that it will be funded for seven to ten years, and its funding is based on Tax Increment Financing (TIF),” Bayer said. “A TIF is based on the idea that, as an area improves, the amount of money that is above the baseline [tax] when it started is the amount of money that comes right back to this community group, that we get to spend the way we want.”

Normally an economic development program comes from the “top down”, Bayer continued: “From a City agency that says ‘you need this or that’. But in this case, the money will come back to this nonprofit group, and we get to decide as a community, how to spend that money.”

Thirteen board members guide the NPI, Bayer said.

The Historic Parkrose NPI is working to unite neighbors and businesses to make the area more attractive to visitors, its director, Bridget Bayer says.

“Our focus right now is this triumvirate of Neighbors, Businesses and Visitors.

Neighborhood
“Visitors want to go where the locals go. We want to invest in our businesses, help them become cool and better businesses, and serve our community needs.  But likewise, we want the neighborhood to know what is here – what is here already and not apparent from the outside – because of the history of the district.

“The strategy for the neighborhoods is to primarily focus on volunteerism. This is to engage our neighbors every way we can by joining their committees, showing up at their events, participating in bringing neighborhood groups together, connecting them with the existing businesses – especially businesses in that district – the businesses and the whole Parkrose area.

Parkrose Business District
“For the Business District, we have physical infrastructure, and purchased in-the-ground projects.  We are developing a ‘business community’.  It’s a really simple word, but it is hard to explain. I was trying to explain this to Tim Curran [of the Mid-County Memo] on the phone, but it isn’t that simple, right?  We definitely need to relate each other, and know each other.  Our strategy of increasing the growth of the area is primary to the growth of this whole effort, is to improve the district’s finances.

Visitors
“For the Visitors, we want to invite them. We want to have more activity and a variety of activity within our district.  And then, we want visitors to spend money with us, and help increase our visibility.”

Bridget Bayer discusses the “Spectrum of Improvements” the NPI district hopes to employ.

Bayer said that one project on which they’re working is erecting banner-holding structures in the median along NE Sandy Boulevard to promote community events, but not specific businesses. Another project is what they call the “Uniform Tree Trimming Project” – so all street trees in the district look well kept and uniform.

They’re also developing what Bayer called a “Visioning Project” – the results of which will be a small booklet or pamphlet “that will identify something you can do to redevelop your property, put on a new storefront; 20 things you can do to help the branding of the district that’s emerging.”

Bayer concluded, “Somehow we have to articulate how amazing this area is, and do this as people drive by at 40 miles an hour – if we can tie together visual elements that help show that visitors are in Parkrose.”

Bridget Bayer takes questions from the audience.

During the question-and-answer period, Parkrose School District Superintendent of Education Dr. Karen Fischer Gray pointed out that the area is home to many people of color, and many who are not native English speakers.

“What my concern is: I’m not hearing anything about a culturally-specific strategy,” Gray pointed out. “The Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission that I’ve been on for four years has an ‘Equity Strategy’. We voted to put it in with his initiatives across this part of the City of Portland.

“But do this with an ‘Equity Lens’ to have a very culturally-specific outreach to businesses, including in Parkrose. There are many people have businesses here that are not represented in this room,” Gray said. “What is your outreach strategy?

Bayer responded, “We are planning to make a plan; planning to create a plan. It’s kind of interesting; it hasn’t been written yet. Our ‘Work Plan’ was written quickly, it had to be done by June, and I started on it in April.”

She continued, “Besides that, what we’re going to do, every single thing we do will have that Equity Lens on it. So, for anyone who is not a native [English] speaker, we’ll have a translation of the materials.”

Part of their current outreach effort, Bayer said, was to locate volunteers who can translate written materials and interpret during meetings.

“Remember,” Gray counseled, “when you talk about ‘community’, we have to include the entire community.”

Publisher and editor of the Mid-County Memo Tim Curran asked how much time Bayer had spent in Parkrose, before being named director of Historic Parkrose.

“Very little,” Bayer admitted. “But I’m glad to be here and work with so many people who have been established here for a long time who are committed to making Parkrose a better place to do business.”

Historic Parkrose NPI
111036 NE Sandy Blvd.
(503) 964-7807
See their website: CLICK HERE.

Come and meet the members of the Parkrose Business Association.

The Parkrose Business Association meets next on November 21 at 11:30 a.m. Come and meet this group of fun, energized businesspeople.

Their meeting is at Holiday Inn Airport 8439 NE Columbia Blvd. (in the hotel building, around the back at the former Flirt’s Night Club entrance – not the Convention Center next door. The meeting is free, and the buffet lunch is $17 including dessert and gratuity; reservations are NOT required.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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