Business association, Venture Portland collaborate on grants for 12 banners

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Alfonso Sanchez puts up a new Raleigh Hills banner along Scholls Ferry Road at Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway on Friday.For anyone who's not a longtime resident or regular driver of Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, Raleigh Hills may seem more like a concept than a distinct place.

Some of those passing through may only associate the area with what locals call "Crazy Corners," the confusing, congested intersection where Southwest Oleson Road and Scholls Ferry Road descend in a jumble at Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway.

As part of Raleigh Hills Business Association's project to rebrand and revitalize the residential and commercial district between Hillsdale and Beaverton, colorful new banners were installed on utility poles last week along Scholls Ferry and Oleson roads. Scott Zwingli of A Light Company installed the 12 banners with purple backgrounds depicting a bright green, heart-shaped design above "Raleigh Hills" in white, cursive letters.

Produced by Robert Alexander and Ryan Moss of GISI Marketing, the 2-and-a-half-foot-wide by 5-foot-long banners were mounted with brackets used for the Beaverton Days banners that Zwingli purchased from the city of Beaverton.

Sponsors, association members and community partners from Portland, Beaverton and Washington County attended a banner preview party on Sept. 10, at Ernesto’s restaurant, 8544 S.W. Apple Way.

Linda Criss, chairwoman of the Raleigh Hills Business Association, praised the sponsors, volunteers and community leaders who lent their support to help bring new life into the neighborhood.

“We have incredible admiration for business districts that take on this kind of project," she said. "We had no idea of all the facets needed. It really takes a village. We could not have gotten this far without the help of so many individuals and organizations.

"Commissioner Greg Malinowski assisted us with the permitting process for Washington County," she added. "David Fineaur of Right Away Associates helped with the PGE permit. The list goes on."by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Alfonso Sanchez puts up a new Raleigh Hills banner along Scholls Ferry Road at Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway on Friday.

Over the past three years, the association has systematically used visual tools to create a brand identity for the neighborhood. Prior to establishing its website, the association created window decals for brick and mortar businesses to display in their windows and home-based businesses to use on vehicle windshields. Last year, the group created a large banner displayed in front of Key Bank on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway along with A-frame signs placed on the street for all business association events.

The banner project was initially funded by a $3,500 matching grant from Venture Portland, a nonprofit organization that coordinates grants, training and technical assistance to invest in and promote strategic growth of the city's distinct neighborhood businesses districts.

During the 2012-13 fiscal year, Venture Portland distributed $85,575 in grants to support 31 city business districts. The Raleigh Hills association applied for funding in last spring's grant cycle based on the benchmark of "district identity."

Business member sponsor dollars matched the $3,500 Venture Portland grant fund at various levels. Eight Tier-One sponsors donated $250 or more. Five Tier-Two sponsors donated $100 or more. Top Tier sponsors are recognized on two sponsor banners that will be displayed until March 15, 2014, before being replaced by two regular banners.

Toni Curry of TLC Promotions provided an in-kind match of $1,000 to create the graphics for both the banner design and the sponsor banner. GISI worked with the association to ensure the banners were created with durable “SunBrella" material that's designed for resilience in Northwestern weather.

Liz Utter, community coordinator with the Raleigh Hills New Seasons Market, 7300 S.W. Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, said the store contributed to the banner project, which adds a fresh flair to the neighborhood.

"I have lived here all my life and thought we were a little town not known by many. Now over the river and through the woods, Raleigh Hills is now a destination," she said. "The new beautiful banners throughout the community show we are a place to come and be a part of."

For Gene Pruszewski, branch manager of the Raleigh Hills US Bank, 8205 S.W. Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, the banners create a palpable bond among the businesses and residents in the community.

"The banners help people recognize this community," he said. "The heart on the banner signifies that we are a business district with a tremendous love and respect for its residents and entrepreneurs, as well as those who visit it."

The business association started three years ago with three members and has grown to include 60 businesses and corporate members. Monthly meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at the Raleigh Hills New Seasons Market and are open to the general public.

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