Saltzman vows to strengthen bonds with East Portland businesses

Find out what businesspeople from all over East Portland learned, when a Portland City Commissioner – starting his fourth term – spoke at an East Portland Chamber of Commerce morning meeting …

Incoming President of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce Judy Leach is welcomed by Past President, Rich Sorem of Rose City Associates.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Businesspeople from across East Portland – from Sellwood’s Fran Allen of Fran’s Fashions, and Brentwood Darlington’s Richard Kiely of Home Run Graphics, to outer East Portland’s insurance guru, Karen Kane from Insurance Solutions NW – gathered to hear a Portland City Commissioner address the East Portland Chamber of Commerce (EPCC).

Outgoing EPCC President Rich Sorem of Rose City Associates introduced the organization’s new leader, Judy Leach, from Adventist Health, saying, “We look forward to the leadership she’ll provide.”

East Portland Chamber of Commerce’s new President, Judy Leach, addresses members and guests at this “Good Morning East Portland” meeting.

Leach said she was pleased that about 40 members and guests came to the 7:30 a.m. meeting they call “Good Morning East Portland”, held at Adventist Medical Center. “It is a pleasure to work with an organization that is so dedicated to professionalism and providing service in East Portland.”

With that, Leach welcomed the guest speaker, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman tells why he selected outer East Portland’s Russellville Park as the location at which to be sworn in for his fourth term.

“It’s always impressive for me to see such a large group of people at 7:30 in the morning, anywhere!” Saltzman smiled.

Re-elected in the May primary, Saltzman said he’d taken the oath of office for his fourth term in outer East Portland, at Russellville Park, on January 5.

“I chose this location, because, in December I’d visited the Mt. Hood Early Head Start Program, a Russellville Park tenant. It dawned on me that this is the place to be sworn in for a couple of reasons. First it was an opportunity to have some of the Early Head Start kids there. Secondly, was an opportunity to have seniors who live there attend. I’ve devoted an essential part of my public career to helping children, and helping seniors, and helping provide a good quality of life for both.”

Additionally, Saltzman noted that, because it’s in the Gateway Urban Renewal Area, it points out the need to focus on a continued effort in the district. “Results from [City Hall’s] efforts at economic development in the Gateway area have been a mixed bag. I am committed to the development of Gateway Town Center. We need more jobs there, we need more well-designed housing there, and we need to increase public and pedestrian safety.”

Beyond the Gateway district, Saltzman said he’s recommitting himself to supporting business across East Portland. “I will continue to work for more City services, and improvements, befitting an area that has a growing population and an aging infrastructure. In some cases, the infrastructure was never built to handle the population that we now have in East Portland today.”

A special interest of his, Commissioner Saltzman says, is supporting programs that aid the very young victims of domestic violence, and senior citizens.

Says youth programs are a good investment
Commissioner Saltzman talked up the Portland Children’s Levy, passed in 2002 and renewed in 2008. He explained that it is a $15-million-a-year funding mechanism in which  the City “invests in proven, cost-effective programs to help children succeed in four areas.”

Saltzman pointed out that Portland Children’s Levy focuses on:

  • Early childhood development programs;
  • After-school and mentor programs;
  • Child abuse prevention; and,
  • Foster child development programs.

“Helping children who are coming from foster care to succeed is important,” Saltzman expanded, “because  only 3% of children from foster care in Oregon get four-year college degrees; only 10% take any college at all. It’s more likely that a foster kid will end up homeless than graduate from college.”

Says new center brings jobs to Gateway

Saltzman also told how he was proud to have spearheaded the Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services in September, 2010. [CLICK HERE to read our story about the center’s opening.]

“I’m very proud of that investment,” Saltzman continued. “There are a lot of jobs at [the Gateway Center], probably 30 or 40 employees – four of them our city employees, and the rest associated with nonprofits.  It is contributing to the economy. They buy lunch, they have dry cleaning and other services just like anyone else, have small business needs.”

Saltzman says, because he started and ran a small firm, he understands the concerns of business people.

Saltzman vows to support businesses
“Additionally, I’m keeping a sharp eye on the bottom line at City Hall,” Saltzman continued. “I have been committed to the success and the continuing development strategy of the Portland Development Commission (PDC), in terms of working more aggressively with small businesses … and, not just in our urban renewal areas.”

After he lost his job at an engineering firm in the 1980s, Saltzman said, he started his own consulting firm. “So, I know it’s a real challenge [to start a business]; but it’s also very rewarding.”

To better understand the needs of businesses in East Portland, Saltzman said he intends to visit with every business district in the city in the next few months. “You are the start of that Odyssey.”

Commissioner Dan Saltzman responds to questions put to him by members and guests at this East Portland Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Questions – and answers
When Saltzman opened the session to questions, East Portland News asked the Commissioner to speak on City funding for the Sellwood Bridge rebuilding project.

“I think the City should play a role in helping to rebuild the Sellwood Bridge. The Portland City Council has considered providing some of our City gas tax [revenue] to Sellwood Bridge reconstruction.  I think that’s how it should be. Speaking with Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen a few days ago, I know they haven’t secured all the federal monies they need yet.”

Saltzman added, “As to the new Sellwood Bridge being equipped with rails for streetcar or light rail, I think is not a bad idea to make sure that we have that capacity. I would argue that every new bridge we build should have the ability to accommodate streetcar or light rail – whether it’s the Interstate Bridge or any bridges being rebuilt.” [However, no rails are now to be added to the bridge as part of its initial construction.]

Licensing bikes?
Mike Giannetti, from MPG Marketing & Mailing Services, asked if the City is considering the Canadian approach to street improvement by licensing bicycles.

“I’m not sure that the City has looked at it; not to say it might be a good idea to have an excise tax on bike equipment to promote safety. The general response from the bike community is they don’t care for the idea.”

Along those lines, Karen Kane, of Insurance Solutions NW, said that bike paths and “bio-swales” have taken away street parking. “While money is being invested in those projects, our streets have potholes.”

The Commissioner responded, in part, “The reason we are doing those projects comes from a clean water perspective. We’re building gigantic pipe projects to keep sewage out of our rivers. We need to make sure that we have [storm water removal] capacity for a long time. That means we have to control surface water that would otherwise go into our sewer system.”

Annette Matson, from Portland General Electric, and a long-time member of the David Douglas Schools Board, asked the Commissioner about his plans to bring more jobs to outer East Portland.

Saltzman responded, “We’ve had some successes and some misses. The PDC is trying to get new businesses here; they are working very hard.”

Paul Hanchett, “The Oregon Business Coach”, asked, “How much business, done by the City, goes to local firms, so [that the revenue] will stay in the community?”

“We subscribe to ‘buy locally’.” Saltzman said. “Dollars that stay in the economy create local jobs. But, we are forbidden by State law to give preference to a local firm on a low-bid basis. When we are soliciting services, we have the option to factor in those considerations. We work to get more minority and women-owned businesses to participate.”

To learn more about the activities of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce, see their website: CLICK HERE to open their site.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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