Just once I would like to see if I can force myself to blog on a regular schedule. It is not that I don’t have things to say and information to share. Rather it is some residual resistance to writing something that others will see that lingers from my school days. So now that I have explained my silence, here is my long-overdue post.
Mayor-elect Sam Adams first developed his list of 10 strategies to help small businesses in an economic downturn in April, before the primary election. He shopped them around to the Small Business Advisory Council (SBAC) and some other folks before trying to convince City Council to take some action. However, the current financial crisis was not wildly obvious to everyone at that time, so the issue was tabled.
Fast forward to October 13th, when Sam invited some key players to a work session to designed to educate City Council about the type of assistance that might be useful as well as some advice on priorities. There were a lot of attendees, including folks from the SBAC, The Portland Business Alliance (PBA), The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Associations (and some other organizations that I have forgotten, I’m sure), as well as representatives from the Portland Development Commission (PDC) and several City bureaus.
There was a lot of hand-wringing and concerns about the next 18 months. Most of that concern was from the larger businesses who don’t expect any major projects to be initiated for a while. There was discussion on the usual talking points about workforce training, financing and delayed retirements. But there was also some hope for smaller businesses benefiting from smaller outsourced projects.
We have been through this cycle before and the Council seem to be learning from previous successes and failures. For one, Sam brought in citizens earlier than ever before. There was also an expressed desire from both Sam Adams and Randy Leonard to start anticipated budget cuts early so that they could be spread over a longer time period and would therefore be less extreme.
The meeting resulted in some huge number of large flip-chart pages that needed to be transcribed and shared with Commissioners, their staff and those who attended the meeting. Council is also busy trying to absorb the job losses from Freightliner, Yahoo, Jive and others as they wade through an unprecedented economic morass in real time. So I am not at all surprised that I have not heard anything about next steps. So stay tuned as we see how we, as a city and region, struggle to maintain the livable city we all love, maintain a vibrant and creative business sector all while weathering a storm that none of us have experienced before.