Lack of food retailers drive outer East Portlanders to shop elsewhere

See what a Portland economic planner says can be done to encourage stores providing everyday needs to move into the Powellhurst-Gilbert and Centennial neighborhood areas …

At the Midway Business Association meeting, Alma Flores – Economic Development Planner for the City of Portland – says a recently-completed study looked at the demographics, land use, employment, and transportation needs of southern outer East Portland – and found lots of automotive services there, but few food stores.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
After brief announcements, the newly-elected President of the Midway Business Association, Bill Dayton, got the association’s meeting underway by introducing the meeting’s speaker, Alma Flores, an Economic Development Planner with the City of Portland.

“We’ve completed an economic survey among people living and operating businesses in southern portion of outer East Portland,” began Flores. “In this area, we had a 60% survey return rate, the highest in the city.”

The study found that this area has a surplus – more than enough – businesses to satisfy consumer needs in these categories:

  • Automobile dealers;
  • Auto parts, accessories and tire stores;
  • Personal and healthcare stores;
  • Sporting goods, hobby and musical instrument stores; and,
  • Drinking places for alcohol beverages.

“There is also a vast surplus of use to merchandise stores,” noted Flores.

Business opportunities pointed out
The economic planner pointed out the “Community Trade Area Gap Analysis” in their report, and noted that folks are having to drive out of the area to buy:

  • Clothing and clothing accessories;
  • Electronics and appliances;
  • Furniture and home furnishings;
  • Gasoline and motor fuels; and,
  • Food and beverages.

Asked what stood in the way of these stores coming into the area, Flores commented, “We have lost a lot of commercial zoning to residential.”

Flores says the area needs to find an “advocate” in the city to champion economic development programs in southern outer East Portland.

Actions to consider
Suggested actions presented in the report, Flores said, include:

  1. Pursue an advocate for funding for economic development and beautification programs, such as storefront and street safe improvement programs, and technical assistance programs for corridor business and property owners.
  2. Encourage mixed-use along the corridor – currently, the commercial zoning is being lost to residential development. Focus on redevelopment and infill development.
  3. Continue to pursue grant funding toward capital improvements and community building. Examples: Department of Justice “weed and seed” grants and regional and citywide transportation improvement programs.

In addition to providing goods and services to local residents, Flores concluded by saying, “Our corridors need to be looked at for employee growth. We’re getting residents, but not jobs in this area.”

The new slate of officers for the Midway Business Association were introduced at the meeting. They are: President, Bill Dayton, Pizza Baron; VP Donna Dionne, Love Boutique; Treasurer, Teresa Anderson, Washington Mutual. Not available for the photo was Secretary Dr. Norbert Huntley, DC.

Meet with Midway on March 11
Come learn all about this new business group dedicated to helping neighbors and businesses improve the southern end of Outer East Portland. Visitors ARE welcome, and the presentation is free (but you pay for your own lunch). Their meeting runs from 11:45 AM until 1 PM at Bill Dayton’s PIZZA BARON Restaurant on SE 122nd Ave., just south of Division Street. For more information, go to

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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