Outer East Portland businesspeople compliment Portland — but demand changes

Read this article and learn how one business association is participating in Mayor Tom Potter’s visionPDX program; and why you should, also ‚Ķ

Jean Baker and David Ashton “pick the brains” of business people as part of the mayor’s visionPDX process, discovering the values and desires of business people in the Gateway Area

Story by Watford Reed; photos by Frank Ryan
Answers poured out, when members of the Gateway Area Business Association were asked to tell what they think of Portland, and what they’d like to see changed.

David F. Ashton, a local newsman and communications consultant, was the facilitator of this “visionPDX” session, co-hosted by Jean Baker, vice president of the Alliance of Neighborhood Business Associations and president of Division-Clinton Business Association. Because of Baker’s diligent efforts, Ashton said, businesspeople had the opportunity to participate in this city-wide program.

Ashton asked participants to keep their “druthers” short, and registered about 40 of them as he, and Jean Baker, solicited views from businesspeople in this outer East Portland community.

At the meeting, Ashton began by asking those attending what they valued most about Portland–and why. The answers ranged from the climate and the people, to diversity of geography, individuals and businesses. “People are warm and friendly,” one member said.

Others said Portland is a “clean-looking city”; it has a “small town feeling” and good schools; “if a neighborhood goes down, people work to build it up again”.

When one member said he likes the parks and green spaces in Portland, Ashton asked how many others felt that way. About three-fourths of the crowd raised hands in agreement.

Immediate changes requested
His next question sought their wishes for changes in Portland.

Cleaner rivers were mentioned first, along with lower prices for gasoline. More support for schools and more light rail and other modes of transportation followed, then training for city and county officials ‚Äì “they don’t seem to have much business experience.”

One man urged “no more taxes or fees” without approval in an election; another called for more jail space to hold lawbreakers.

Ashton then asked what Portland should “be like, if all our hopes and dreams come true, in 20 years”.

Less traffic congestion, and lower pollution of streams, were among the answers. Others said that when “government asks for a new program, revenue sources are specifically identified.” Others demanded zero-based budgets; “no fat children”, lower crime, shutting down drug trafficking, and less prostitution.

Several members agreed that sounder economic development programs should be in place.

Action steps
The climax of the session came when Ashton elicited the most important steps that needed to be taken to reach the lofty dreams put forth for the city.

Less crowding of housing, and more space between houses, were the first items mentioned. A “fairer tax system” and “election of business operators to public office instead of politicos” were urged. So was accountability for city officials.

In closing, members were invited to tell others they knew, that they can also participate in “visionPDX” by going online to www.apnba.com, and following the link to the on-line questionnaire.

On their way out, members of the business association made it clear that they were pleased their answers to these vital questions would be included in the mayor’s vision plan.

¬© 2006 ‚Äì East PDX News

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