Outsider assesses Parkrose business group

Find out who made these frank comments – and what they mean to the leaders and members of the Parkrose Business Association, as they begin another year …

Marsha Grabinger with Copy Express and Judy Kennedy of Pacific Northwest Federal Credit Union check-in guests to the first PBA meeting of the year.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
At their January meeting, the tradition is for the Parkrose Business Association (PBA) president to present an address entitled “State of the PBA” talk.

PBA President Michael Taylor, interim superintendent of the Riverdale School District in southwest Portland, brought the meeting to order at the Holiday Inn Airport on January 17 with the Pledge of Allegiance and introductions.

Terry Briar, of the Davey Tree Expert Company, selects for himself what looks to be another delicious meal at the buffet tables.

PBA President Michael Taylor brings the meeting to order.

However, instead of launching into his “State of the PBA” address, he told the 38 members and guests that the best assessment of their organization might be given by one associated with it, but not herself directly a member of it.

With that, he introduced Venture Portland Executive Director, Heather Hoell.

Venture Portland Executive Director Heather Hoell begins her assessment of the Parkrose Business Association.

“As Executive Director of ‘Venture Portland’, I work for all of you, because the PBA is a member of Venture Portland,” Hoell began.

She said that her organization, formerly known as the Association of Portland Neighborhood Business Associations (APNBA), supports the efforts of Portland’s 50 “unique business districts” with training, technical assistance, and a grant program.

Currently Alison Stoll, Executive Director of Central Northeast Neighbors, is the direct liaison for Parkrose to Venture Portland.

“The good news is, all of the business districts are kind of the same,” Hoell said. “You’re all working on behalf of your business districts.  The other news is that all of your associations are nothing alike, because you’re all representing businesses in your particular communities.

PBA members listen, and learn their association is similar to other business districts in many ways –but is very unique in others.

“Parkrose is in an incredibly exciting place for a business association,” Hoell continued.  “You all have some very outstanding programs than you do, things that you can ‘hang your hat on’, and can be used as the ‘best practice’ models for other districts around the city.”

She pointed out that the monthly PBA luncheon meeting is perhaps the most-attended and ongoing meeting of any business district within the City. She also highlighted the PBA Business Directory, edited and designed by former PBA board member, Marsha Grabinger, and called it “truly award-winning. It’s a tremendous reference and a service provided to the community.”

Venture Portland’s Hoell says Parkrose has “an incredible embarrassment of riches”.

Referencing a recent board meeting, Hoell went on, “I said to your board members, you have ‘an incredible embarrassment of riches’ here in Parkrose.  Most business districts are lucky if they have one association that meets on a mostly regular basis. But here are also has several community-based foundations, and business focus groups, which is outstanding.

“When it comes to the passion of your members in the community for Parkrose, and the passion found in a number of like-minded organizations that are in the shared geographic area, you’re all working to strengthen the business climate, grow the economy, and enhance the community.”

Heather Hoell urges PBA members to look forward, and be ready to embrace changes in the community.

But in a changing world, Hoell admonished, all organizations must realize and embrace the fact that “the world is changing. The economy is still struggling. You have an opportunity to think about doing your business – which is the supporting of the businesses in your district – a little bit differently.”

Hoell asked members to consider several questions, including:

  • What is the vision for Parkrose?
  • Is it about having a stronger business climate?
  • Is it about having a different mix of businesses?
  • What would you want this community to look like?
  • And what are you willing to do to get there?


After lauding the hard work and dedication of the PBA board members, Hoell concluded, “I think you’re sitting in a very exciting place, with a lot of opportunity ahead of you, and enough passion in the community to make it all happen.”

PBA Board grows
After her talk, PBA President Taylor announced that the organization was expanding its board from 11 to 14 members. “We have four completely new board members – and three other members were added to the board about four months ago.

“Our membership stays fairly consistent – about 80 members, who are listed in our directory – and we have 40 paid advertisers in the PBA Directory.  The association holds about $20,000 in its bank account.  In addition, the Parkrose Business Association also has as an adjunct, the Parkrose Business Foundation – a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that does fundraising, and the charitable pieces that we built a reputation around – giving our high school seniors scholarships.”

Then, Taylor turned to recognizing the organization’s volunteers.

PBA President Taylor says the business directory he holds is a prime example of the many hours that members contribute to the organization.

“Ours is an entirely volunteer organization. I went back and looked at our activities last year.”

He enumerated the hours spent by the board, producing the newsletter and directory, and time spent in member recruitment. “I figure PBA members give about 1,500 volunteer hours – that’s 185 labor days – each year. That alone, I think, shows strength and proof of success for this association.”

The PBA Board considered eight elements necessary for success in an organization, which Taylor listed as:

  1. A sustainability effort;
  2. A marketing and media campaign;
  3. Good collateral material like a map or newsletter;
  4. District identity;
  5. Community building and community partnerships;
  6. Strong Web or online presence/social media;
  7. Strong membership;
  8. A signature event.


“The next question is, ‘What we’re going to do about it?’” Taylor queried aloud.

The Board decided to focus on community building and community partnerships, strong web online presence, strong continued membership – and coming up with an new “signature event” – something the PBA hasn’t had since it discontinued the their annual cruise-in events.

“The only way any of these goals will be successful is if that’s what the collective organization wants – and if they’re they’re willing to contribute time and/or funds. If this happens, we’ll continue to be strong.”

Dr. David Day D.C. and Lori Boisen, both with the Division-Midway Alliance Neighborhood Prosperity District and the Midway Business Association, are welcomed by PBA President Mike Taylor to the monthly PBA meeting.

Meet the PBA
On February 21, members of the Parkrose Business Association will get together again at 11:30 a.m. in the Holiday Inn Airport, 8439 NE Columbia Blvd. (in the hotel building, around the back at the Flirt’s entrance – not the Convention Center next door.)

You’re welcome to come and meet this group of fun, energized business people. The meeting is free, and the buffet lunch is $17, including dessert and gratuity; reservations are NOT required. For more information, see their web site: CLICK HERE.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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