By Mary Alice Scott, PBL Executive Director
A healthy, local business community makes Portland stand out from other coastal towns, gives residents access to a diverse array of products and services, and boosts our local economy through the multiplier effect. Local businesses shape Portland’s unique character while making the city an interesting and attractive place to live and visit.
In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, Portland Buy Local (PBL) worked to promote these local businesses through marketing, education, building community, and advocacy. We’re well-known for our “Buy Local” decals and seasonal posters displayed at hundreds of storefronts throughout the city, as well as for our annual “Buy Local Guide,” of which we distribute 25,000 copies annually.
Adding Voices to the Earned Paid Sick Leave Debate
Recently, we increased our advocacy efforts on behalf of local businesses. In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, the most publicized issue on which we engaged was Earned Paid Sick Leave. The Mayor asked PBL to conduct a survey on the topic, and we received over 170 responses, along with many comments. We testified at the first public hearing, reported on the data found in the survey, and made sure that the voices of local, independent businesses were heard in the discussions.
This issue is not yet resolved. As always, we will continue to facilitate conversation between City Hall and Portland’s local, independent business community.
Seeking Policies to Support Independent Business
For the first time ever, we organized and hosted a policy forum at USM’s Hannaford Hall. This “Why Local” forum brought together five experts who covered a range of topics.
Lynn Tillotson, CEO of Visit Portland, spoke to the importance of “authentic destinations” and “unique experiences” for the tourism industry – both of which are, almost by definition, developed by the local, independent business community. Other speakers presented ideas about potential policy solutions that could help Portland maintain its unique character while promoting local entrepreneurship. Look for a full report with some of these policy solutions coming soon.
Portland is experiencing exciting growth. We know it is more important than ever for Portland Buy Local to represent the local businesses which shape our community’s unique character. You can be a part of this movement. Become an individual or business member today (www.portlandbuylocal.org/join), sign up to volunteer, and as always, support local businesses!
WEN is a Portland Buy Local media partner, and publisher-editor Tony Zeli serves on the organization’s board of directors.