Why Community-Focused Businesses Need a Seat at the Table
In 2017, we’re inviting our member businesses to author calls-to-action that align with our 2017 Focus Areas. Our June post is by Kristen Connor, Senior Vice President and Community Impact Officer at Heritage Bank. Kristen describes how business owners play a critical role in shaping policy and connects their work back to the community.
“The next generation of businesses deserve a seat at the table.”
This is what I said when I first heard about Business for a Better Portland. As someone who has worked in commercial banking for years, I’ve heard enthusiastic, values-driven entrepreneurs ask me for advice on getting involved with their community and with a business organization that aligns with their values. In addition to networking opportunities they are hungry for knowledge, education, and connections that lead to real change. Creating a thriving and prosperous Portland is a priority for us all. Since launching in February, Business for a Better Portland has answered this call. The organization is engaging progressive business leaders in city policy and community partnerships in new and inspiring ways.
What I’ve seen is that the “business community” is not a monolith. It does not speak with one voice for all.
There are many in the private sector committed to creating a better community, and who recognize that the success of their businesses and that of Portland are inextricably connected. That’s the message BBPDX is sharing with our elected officials.
BBPDX has informed and engaged business owners through their monthly Call To Action model on critical city and state issues like affordable housing and workforce diversity. They even unexpectedly opened a dialogue with legislators in Salem around tax reform and the need to better fund education and social services.
They are changing the tone of conversation between business owners and elected officials from to one of conflict and polarization to collaboration and partnership. The premise is pretty simple. Given the state of affairs at a national level, connections between forward thinking, solutions-oriented business leaders, policy makers, and community organizations are needed now more than ever. From tenant protections that keep families in their homes to protecting our elders from losing critical services so they don’t become homeless, businesses need to engage with government to improve our community and strengthen our economy.
So what kind of organization do you want to build moving forward? What change do you want to see in Portland, and how do you envision your business contributing? I’m inviting you to let us know. We’re excited to be joined by Rep. Karin Power, named by the Willamette Week as lawmaker Rookie of the Year.
If you haven’t joined already, become a member today and help shape the future of Business for a Better Portland and join us at our First Annual Members’ Summer Social on the Roof Deck of Revolution Hall on Monday, July 31.
When I see you on July 31, let’s talk about how business owners can collaborate and help one another to strengthen our community.
Business thrives when Portland thrives.
Members may register for the July 31 event here.