Portland Government Makeover: Paving the Way for Business Competitiveness

15 Nov 2023

Portland Government Makeover: Paving the Way for Business Competitiveness

The following is an article written by Monique Claiborne, President & CEO, GPI which appeared in Yahoo Finance and Market Watch

In the bustling landscape of economic development, Greater Portland Inc is delighted to witness the remarkable transformation that Portland's city government is undergoing, driven by a voter-approved overhaul that is set to elevate the Portland region's competitiveness for businesses eyeing expansion on the West Coast.  

The recent resounding City Council endorsement of a comprehensive bureaucratic makeover, complemented by the introduction of the innovative Downtown Business Incentives Credit Program, an expanded enterprise zone, and a forward-thinking exploration of additional Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, signifies a pivotal turning point in the city’s evolution.   

Downtown Business Incentive Credit Program: 

The inauguration of the Downtown Business Incentive Credit Program marks a significant milestone in enhancing Portland's business competitiveness. By offering targeted incentives to businesses in the downtown area, the city is actively promoting investment, growth, and job creation in the heart of the urban core.  

This program acknowledges the importance of a vibrant downtown district in driving economic prosperity for the entire community. By encouraging businesses to establish themselves in downtown Portland, this program will not only fortify the city's economic vitality but also invigorate high-density foot traffic. The $25 million temporary nonrefundable tax credit is designed to incentivize commercial lease signings and renewals in four sub-districts of downtown, revitalizing the area and attracting new ventures.  

The Enterprise Zone Program:  

Portland's Enterprise Zone Program received unanimous approval from the City Council intensifies the city’s effort to retain and grow traded sector businesses and to encourage commercial activity in the Central City. This program offers qualified firms making substantial capital investments a 100 percent waiver on real property taxes related to the new investment for five years. These resolutions expand the E-Zone to include the downtown and retains an e-commerce overlay for ten years, promoting business growth in East Portland and creating an attractive hub for businesses.  

Streamlining City Operations:  

Portland's commitment to streamline its city government is also reflected in the recent 4-1 City Council vote directing Chief Administrative Officer Michael Jordan to conduct a comprehensive restructuring of city operations within the next 14 months. This demonstrates an understanding of the needs of the city's diverse industry base. The overhaul is designed to make the city government more efficient, effective, and accountable. 

Key features of this initiative include the creation of a new executive leadership team, which encompasses six deputy city administrators, an equity officer, and an assistant city administrator. Together, these individuals will assume responsibility for leading and coordinating operations across Portland, with a primary focus on improving the delivery of both internal and external services, eliminating inefficiencies, and ushering in a more responsive and agile municipal system for businesses and residents. 

TIF District Exploration: 

In tandem with the efforts to streamline operations and enhance our downtown's allure, Portland is charting an ambitious course with the exploration of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts. City Council has adopted a resolution to create new TIF districts, with a particular focus on East Portland and the Central City.  

The Central City TIF exploration process encompasses up to 1,500 available acres and approximately $3.7 billion in available assessed value. The creation of new TIF districts aims to generate vibrant, economically robust areas that are not only conducive to business success but also committed to providing essential resources for the broader community. 

The recent governmental makeover in Portland marks a pivotal moment for the region's economic development. Greater Portland Inc enthusiastically endorses these initiatives, recognizing their potential to foster a more competitive and business-friendly environment ultimately benefitting both businesses and the broader community.  

As Portland continues down this path, Greater Portland's economic future is poised to shine even brighter, offering unparalleled opportunities for businesses considering expansion on the West Coast.