Business Tribune column: GPI supports our region's communities
This column appeared in the Business Tribune. Matt Miller, Greater Portland Inc's interim president and CEO, writes a monthly column for the local newspaper.
As a public-private partnership, Greater Portland Inc (GPI) is an economic development organization with a unique advantage. Strong support from both government and private firms allows us to present one region united by common goals. The partnership that supports GPI is illustrative of our region as a whole: a place where business and government work together to bring prosperity to Greater Portland.
Our public-private partnership hinges on cooperation and collaboration. GPI is proud to provide a bi-state platform for our partners — public and private alike — to have a regular dialogue on regional issues.
While GPI's role as a convener is crucial to our work, the GPI team works to support and foster relationships with all of our partners. On the private side, this means working closely with banks, law firms, professional sports teams, construction companies, commercial real estate firms, and many other firms serving the region.
On the public side, it means we are in close communication with our region's ports, higher education institutions and communities, among others, to recognize their needs and ensure our work benefits the entire region.
Our communities are our region's greatest strength. Our communities, with their talented workforces, opportunities for growth and specialized supply chains, attract new businesses that, in turn, strengthen our region with added jobs and tax revenue.
GPI works tirelessly to promote our region as a whole and each of our communities to the world. We ensure that our communities' individual strengths are communicated in the story we tell companies interested in relocating to our region.
What is the Greater Portland region? Our region covers seven counties in two states, from Wilsonville to Vancouver, and from Forest Grove to Troutdale. We work directly with more than 25 cities, counties and sub-regions to thoroughly understand each of their industry strengths, needs and availability in terms of land and commercial real estate.
When the GPI team connects with a company looking to expand or relocate, we put our team's technical research expertise to good use. We provide the company vital regional data on the labor market, business climate, industry ecosystems, cost of doing business, commercial real estate and more. And we go to great lengths to ensure the company is aware of all suitable locations in the region. If the firm expresses interest in specific communities in Greater Portland, we connect them with the right people and resources for that community.
GPI's close communication and collaboration with community partners has resulted in big wins for our region: Element Six, a De Beers subsidiary, is building a $94 million synthetic diamond manufacturing plant in Gresham; RealWear, a fast-growing virtual reality company, relocated its headquarters from California to Vancouver; and biotech firm Genentech employs 300 at its new patient service center in Portland's Lloyd District.
Maintaining regular communication with our communities is crucial. We engage our community partners in several different ways.
Each month, we convene community economic development professionals — the government workers dedicated to recruiting and retaining businesses in their respective cities or counties — for a conversation.
We are always eager to hear about new community projects and developments, and our team tells communities what sorts of specific sites companies are looking for. This information sharing is key to ensuring we work as one region.
These monthly meetings, often held in different communities throughout the region, allow attendees to share information and business intelligence. For instance, the GPI team might identify an uptick in requests for a certain type of commercial real estate. We share that with our communities, allowing them to act on that information.
We also bring in speakers on various topics including workforce development, community marketing, industry trends, updates on the region's economic health and economic development best practices.
GPI also convenes the Small City Consortium. These monthly meetings bring together nearly 20 mayors and city managers representing the region's smaller communities. The meetings provide local leaders a chance to share their successes, solutions and opportunities with each other in a valuable exchange of best practices.
As a regional nonprofit supported by both public and private entities, GPI is proud to bring our communities together with a shared goal of creating more economic opportunities for all our residents.
Matt Miller is the interim president and CEO of Greater Portland Inc. GPI is a public-private partnership working to advance regional economic development through job growth and investment. Matt can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org