Gateway Area Business Association meets – and plans meeting location move

Hear what Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz had to say when she visited with Gateway business folks. And find out where (and when) GABA will be meeting in January …

For what turns out to be the final time, members of the Gateway Area Business Association met at Parkview Christian Retirement Community for their last meeting of 2010.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Since we last brought you news about the Gateway Area Business Association, there’s been a change of leadership, meeting day, and location.

About 35 members and guests met at Parkview Christian Retirement Community’s community room for a wonderful hot lunch, to hear about GABA’s progress, and to talk with Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz on November 11. For well over a year, Parkview has hosted the organization – and provided luncheon service without charge – for which the members and leadership say they’re very grateful and appreciative.

> NOTE: See the end of this article for the new meeting date and location!

Dawn Rasmussen, of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services, talks about the committees established by GABA, and what they’re hope to accomplish.

After self-introductions, board member Dawn Rasmussen told how the organization’s Economic Development, Government Relations, Membership, and Public Relations/Publicity committees would be helping to guide the future of this, one of Portland’s oldest business associations.

“We had a strategic re-envisioning meeting to get feedback on some of our initiatives,” Rasmussen said. “There are a lot of common things that we can work toward together. One of our biggest concerns is how can we engage our members, and provide better value to you.”

And, President-Elect Lee Powell said that May 21, 2011 has been set as the date for the Gateway Fun-O-Rama to return. The plans include a parade and a talent show.

GABA’s President-Elect, Lee Powell, a Farmer’s Insurance Agent, welcomes Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

The featured speaker, Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, got a warm welcome as she came to address the group.

Fritz began, talking about having been asked to arm-wrestle at the organization’s summertime outdoor event. (CLICK HERE to bring up that article, with photos!)

“When my organizer said I had been invited to arm-wrestle,” Fritz said, “I turned and looked at her and said ‘I don’t do arm wrestling!’ But when I learned it was at a GABA event, and I’d be arm wrestling a Keystone Kop – well, that was different, and it was fun.”

The Commissioner complimented the organization on its many area activities, including the First Responders Recognition event, and the Citizen of the Year program.

“East Portland is really on the map,” Fritz stated. “For example; the Spirit of Portland Awards come to mind. Many of those honored are from outer East Portland.”

Commissioner Fritz urges businesspeople to become more involved in City government.

Reminding the group that she entered politics as a civic organizer and volunteer, Fritz urged those in attendance, “Come to City Hall; it is your City Hall. Except in rush-hour, you can get there in about 25 or 30 minutes. I and my staff are at your disposal; anyone can come speak with me. We hold two half-hour periods every week for people to come see us – and affluent folks don’t get an extra turn.”

Saying that her staff does a great deal of work, Fritx explained, “You’ll find this is true for most of the folks in City Hall. I go from meeting to meeting. I rarely have more than a short time to sit down and focus on a given project. My staff – they’re specialists in each of their particular areas. Often the staff can spend two or more hours helping to figure out how to get something done. So, don’t feel disparaged if you’re asked to meet with a staff member; it’s actually a sign of special interest.”

About Portland, Fritz said, “We are a very personal city; we’ve come to know each other. You know me as Amanda. I get hundreds of e-mails a day; I open them all.”

Citizen testimony before the Portland City Council is a good way to be heard, Fritz said. “Wednesday morning, at the beginning of Council, there are five three-minute slots for public testimony. At my website, see the next Council agenda, and learn how to sign up. By the way, three minutes isn’t very long; come prepared – and send your full message to Council members in advance.”

Asked about considering her re-election campaign, Commissioner Fritz says, “Campaigning is challenging for me.”

Opening the discussion to questions, Fritz was asked if she’d run for another term, since the measure to continue public-financed political campaigns was defeated in the last election.

“Last time there was an open [City Council] seat, a candidate spent $1 million,” Fritz observed. “Elections campaigns are artificial. It is challenging [for the public to get] to know a new person who has not been in public office.

“It is an imperfect system,” Fritz continued. “Part of [getting elected] is how good the candidate is at asking wealthy people for money. Then, much of the campaign is done in thirty-second-long radio and TV ads. So many issues are so much more complex than that. I did find campaigning challenging. You can’t have a conversion back and forth.”

Returning to the point, Fritz concluded, “I haven’t decided whether to run for re-election yet.”

Discourages Downtown Urban Renewal
Asked about continuing funding for Downtown Portland Urban Renewal districts, Fritz said, “I think others deserve a turn before we renew it. Before dedicating more dollars to downtown, we need to pave streets and sidewalks in East and Southwest Portland.”

In conclusion, Fritz talked about her experience of being in office. “The best part of this job is, that when I was a community organizer, no one knew my name or cared if I showed up – as long as the work got done. Now, when I show up, people are happy to see me. It’ is a privilege to be your City Commissioner, and I appreciate being in this job.”

New officers, meeting day and location announced
The new GABA leaders and directors for 2011, we learned, will be:

  • President – Lee Powell, Farmers Insurance
  • Vice President – Fred Sanchez, Realty Brokers
  • Secretary – David Panichello, Opti-Con, Inc.
  • Treasurer – Karen Montez, Synergy Restoration & Construction LLC
  • Past-President, Ajnesh (AJ) Prasad – Columbia State Bank
  • Directors – Dean Wiest,Wholesale Printing USA; and Mike Wolfe, Gateway Little Chapel of the Chimes.

The second Wednesday of the month is the new regular meeting date, GABA leaders announced, placing their next meeting on January 12.

Networking starts at 11:30 a.m.; the meeting starts at 11:45, and ends promptly at 1:00 p.m. This month: The featured speaker is Alan Stubbs, Portland Development Commission Business Finance Officer, who will be discussing financing opportunities for Gateway businesses.

Note the new location: Gateway Izzy’s Pizza, 1307 NE 102nd Avenue (in the Gateway Fred Meyer Shopping Center.). For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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