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Katz on business: We are getting our butts kicked

Mayor proposes public-private fund to market Portland

Mayor Vera Katz on Monday made a pitch to several hundred business leaders for launching a joint public-private economic fund to encourage out-of-state companies to move here or keep their businesses in Portland.

She also called for increased spending to market the city both nationally and internationally. City leaders already are planning a trip to Charlotte, N.C., in November to promote Portland and to research that bustling region's planning and development strategies.

'Let's be honest, when it comes to competing for major business expansions or recruitments, we are getting our butts kicked too often,' Katz said during a noon speech at the Governor Hotel.

Access to capital and a strong entrepreneurial environment are 'key to nurturing new ideas rather than having them transplanted, grow and prosper somewhere else,' she said.

Katz touted three funds in the works by the Portland Development Commission, including the Portland New Markets Fund for real estate projects and business loans and the Portland Community Fund for investment in housing. PDC is seeking federal money for both.

The mayor revisited a similar economic development speech of last year, ticking off some of the accomplishments since then: completion of two development plans for Oregon Health & Science University's growth, the retention of Freightliner's headquarters here, and the streamlining of the city's building and land-use regulations.

Soon after Katz's speech to business leaders last year, she appointed a blue ribbon committee that issued a report on the city's economic priorities over the next two years. The report also pointed out problems in areas ranging from school funding to transportation.

The city has had hits and misses with business retention and development in the past year.

Last week, May Department Stores Co. put its plans to redevelop the downtown Meier & Frank store on hold, and Vestas Wind Systems has done the same with its plans to build a manufacturing facility at the Port of Portland.

Contact Kristina Brenneman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..