Call To Action: Support Portland’s Underrepresented Business Owners

Right now, Portland’s City Council is hearing from a wide array of interest groups about what should be prioritized in our city’s next annual budget. BBPDX has taken the first step in writing a letter to Mayor Wheeler and the City Council that speaks to the importance of ensuring that underrepresented businesses in Portland receive the support they need to access economic opportunities.

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Members of BBPDX and Technology Association of Oregon gathered in April at Uncorked Studios to learn from Prosper Portland and the Mayor’s staff about their programs to support underrepresented entrepreneurs.

This letter will show the City Council that companies across Portland believe that our city thrives when everyone is given equal access to economic opportunity.

Scroll down to read full letter that BBPDX will send to Mayor Wheeler and the Portland City Council. The final version will include the names of companies and organizations that sign on by the deadline.

The deadline for businesses to add their names to this letter is 10 AM on Friday, April 27th. Please click here to add your company to our support letter now.

Breaking News: Proposed Business License Tax

To add to the urgency of this Call To Action, Portland’s Mayor Wheeler announced a possible increase in the Business License Tax (BLT) rate from the current 2.2% to 2.6% (of net income). Coupled with the rate increase, he is considering increasing the Owner’s Compensation Deduction from $103,000 to $125,000. These changes would result in an estimated $15.3 million in additional revenues. He is proposing to use this additional revenue for programs such as the small business programs referenced in this Call To Action.

BBPDX is calling on its members to share their thoughts on this proposed tax increase. The feedback collected will be used to inform upcoming conversations with the Mayor and City Council members during budget deliberations. The deadline for BBPDX members to complete the survey is noon on Wednesday, May 2nd.

Please click here to fill out our member survey on the proposed Business License Tax increase.

April 27, 2018

Dear Mayor Wheeler and Portland City Council:

As detailed in a recent report from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, while the Portland region has thrived economically, there have been no real income gains in East Portland since 2005. Our city boasts the fourth highest concentration of small businesses in the country. Yet despite this astonishing growth, too many business owners are being left behind.

In 2016, the median white family held ten times as much net wealth as the median black family, and more than eight times as much wealth as the median Latino family. Business ownership drives much of the disparity in multigenerational wealth. Research shows that gains in employment and income show little progress in erasing these differences.

Business for a Better Portland members believe that our city thrives when everyone is given equal access to economic opportunity. Investing in underrepresented business owners is one of the most promising paths to creating economic mobility — something that’s inextricably tied to solving the city’s most pressing challenges, including affordable housing. When diverse business owners thrive, the overall economy thrives — and local communities that have been shut out of economic growth share in the beneficial impacts of that growth. We believe the strongest economy is one that lifts all communities up, erasing the disparities that have too often plagued Oregon.

Recognizing the need to build an economy that lifts up all communities, Mayor Wheeler convened a Council of Economic Advisors in 2017 that included over 40 community leaders. In partnership with Worksystems and Prosper Portland, the Council recommended $900K in spending to support efforts in workforce development, youth skills training, and access to capital for women and minorities.

Prosper Portland, the main bureau responsible for ensuring that public dollars are invested to create equitably distributed economic opportunity, submitted an additional budget request of $1.8MM. The funding will go to support small businesses through innovative, grassroots programs like the Inclusive Business Resource Network. It will also increase workforce development and foster growth at the neighborhood business level. Funding these programs and leveraging the City’s investment to secure private and philanthropic funding will create a model for public/private partnerships in the years to come. Most importantly, it is a signal to marginalized communities that they have a place in the future of Portland, that they are valued members of our City, and that they will not be left behind.

As business owners who have benefited from countless opportunities not afforded to historically disadvantaged communities, we call on the Mayor and Council to fund the full requests advised by the Council for Economic Advisors, and submitted by Prosper Portland. In this time of unprecedented economic growth, business owners must stand together to ensure that everyone shares in the prosperity created.



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