Gateway businesspeople seek renewal of ‘vision’

While other business associations take a ‘summer vacation’, discover the important purpose of the Gateway Area Business Association’s August meeting. And take a look at the special evening event they have planned for September 9

GABA’s president, Ajnesh “AJ” Prasad of Columbia State Bank, welcomes members and guests to the Gateway Area Business Association’s August meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Because many folks vacation in the summer months, many neighborhood business associations don’t meet in July, in August, or sometimes in either month.

But, the Gateway Area Business Association (GABA) held an August 12 meeting – and it wasn’t just a fun get-together. It was held for a significant reason: Redefining the strategic vision of the organization.

GABA board member David Panichello, of OptiCon, gives an update on local and regional political issues that affect businesspeople in the greater Gateway area.

After dining on a three-course luncheon provided by the facility at which GABA meets, Parkview Christian Retirement Community, GABA President Ajnesh “AJ” Prasad started the meeting by inviting members and guests to introduce themselves. Fred Sanchez announced that, in September, they’d be hosting an evening “Emergency First Responders Appreciation Fair” at 111th Square – more on that, at the end of this article.

Then, GABA board member Dawn Rasmussen began the visioning process.

“At our board meetings, we’ve agreed that it is time to establish a ‘strategic vision’ for our organization,” Rasmussen began. “We are asking for ideas and input from our membership in four key areas.”

Dawn Rasmussen, from Pathfinder Writing Career Services, facilitates the GABA Strategic Vision session.

Those four areas, Rasmussen said, include advocacy, partnerships, education/meetings/involvement, and membership.

The attendees broke into four work groups, each taking on one of these four strategic topics in a small discussion. A “scribe” in each group wrote down notes suggested by its members.

Mill Park Neighborhood Association Chair Rosemarie Opp and Karen Kane, of Insurance Solutions NW, Inc., listen to ideas presented in their group.

As the individual groups returned to meet together, Rasmussen solicited the results of each group.

Here’s a sampling of some of the input generated.


  • GABA needs to proactively set up appointments with the City Council.
  • GABA can help cultivate fielding a candidate from East Portland for the next City Council race, to get representation for this area of Portland.
  • Before GABA can field a candidate, we need to conduct a voter registration drive, as most politicians have been ignoring this area because of our low voter turnout.
  • Concern was raised about the potential of water rates being increased and hurting businesses.
  • GABA needs to partner with key agencies to unite around solutions to problems facing the area.


  • GABA needs to get more active in participating in nearby neighborhoods (in bylaws), including going to neighborhood association meetings to build visibility of the business district among residents.
  • GABA needs to determine opportunities to promote local businesses to local buyers, and encourage local shopping.
  • GABA needs to engage in cross-marketing with similar organizations – i.e., partnering with Parkrose Business Association, etc., to help build “political clout” with City Hall.
  • GABA needs to connect with the Gateway Urban Renewal District / PDC group, and be engaged in their work.

Rasmussen records ideas and suggestions from which a new vision for GABA can be established.

Education / Meetings / Involvement:

  • GABA needs to continue to improve the educational value of the meetings we are presenting to members. Topic suggestions include Social networking for businesses, Information from Energy Trust.
  • GABA needs to continue to spread the word of its meetings, including getting listings in the local media on a regular basis announcing the topic and location/date.
  • GABA needs to get to know the surrounding community and neighbors – be an active part of the community.
  • GABA needs to create meetings that allow members to learn new skills, or have a better understanding of a particular topic.


  • GABA needs to become more aggressive in its membership marketing, including possible door-to-door walk-arounds of the business district to put a ‘face’ on the organization, and recruit new member businesses.
  • GABA needs to implement the “member care committee” to welcome new members.
  • GABA should mentor high school students.
  • GABA should host a joint meeting with other civic groups like Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.

The Flag Ceremony is just one of the features of the “Emergency First Responders Appreciation Fair at 111th Square” to be held on September 9. East Portland News file photo

GABA evening event on September 9
Instead of the usual noontime meeting, the September 9 GABA meeting will be the “Emergency First Responders Appreciation Fair at 111th Square” from 5:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.

“This is our fourth annual celebration, at which we give thanks to Portland’s first responders,” explained host Fred Sanchez. “Come meet your Portland Police Officers, Portland fire & Rescue, and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department representatives.”

This special evening includes a flag ceremony, a gun salute, a motorcycle cruise-in, and a hot dog eating contest. Food will be available for purchase from a local business, Frankie’s Franks.

111th Square is located conveniently at NE 111th Avenue and NE Halsey Street. For more information, see GABA’s website: CLICK HERE.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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