The Portland City Council has been under fire of late for some of the actions that it has taken or proposed to take. The last big mistake the Council made was proposing a “street fee” to fix the streets, and pay for other transportation projects like sidewalks. It was very regressive in its design and the whole city went ape-shit crazy.
However, the City Council doesn’t get everything wrong, and actually does some things very right. One of the things the City Council did right was the creation of Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative (NPIs) and Main Street Project.
The NPIs are small, some very small, non-profits that work to help increase economic vitality to some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. They do this by working to help grow small businesses and entrepreneurs who want to start a business. Here are some facts about small businesses:
o More the ½ of Americans own or work for a small business
o Small business create 2 of every 3 new jobs in the US.
o 97% of Oregon’s Employers are small businesses
o Portland’s neighborhood business districts contain 19,000 businesses and 250,000 jobs
o 98% of Portland’s businesses have 5 or fewer employees
o 70% of every dollar spent at a small business stays in the local economy.
Division-Midway Alliance is one of the NPIs. We serve the community along SE Division from SE 117th Ave. to SE 148th Ave. Forty-four percent of the businesses in this area are owned by women, immigrants, and/or people of color. Starting a small business is one of the best ways to pull yourself out of poverty. We also help people with becoming job ready, e.g. getting a GED, writing resumes, etc. We also help them access other job search services.
In addition to working to improve the business community, we also work with government entities to implement policies that will improve the lives of our residents. We are working to change zoning laws to prevent gentrification of our neighborhoods. We are working to bring investments to our community, like better transportation. And we are working to make our community more livable by cleaning it up, improving city services, and creating a sense of belonging.
You can help us do our work. We are competing for a $25,000 prize awarded by Wells Fargo. You can go to and vote for us. If we win the prize, we will be able to fund a part-time staff person who can help with our many objectives.
We would be very appreciative, and your vote will go a long way to achieving our mission of making East Portland and the Division-Midway neighborhood a better place to shop and live.