It has been a year of great transition for the Portland Business Alliance. As 2018 winds down and we look toward the exciting possibilities in the New Year, I find myself reflecting on how the Alliance can continue to be a leading voice for business and approach issues with a fresh perspective, especially as our community plans to tackle some daunting challenges.
Of course, weighing heavy on our minds is the destruction wrought by the recent wildfires in California. As our southern neighbors mourn their losses and rebuild their communities, the Alliance has contributed to the Red Cross and we urge our fellow Oregonians to do the same, if you're able.
In Portland's diverse business community, it's not always easy to speak with a united voice, nor should it be. As the largest regional chamber in Oregon, we are driven by our core mission to create a place where everyone can live, work and thrive — something we can all agree on, regardless of profession or political persuasion. We are here to be a voice and advocate for the core values we all share.
One of the most important things we do is build bridges. After an eventful election year, both locally and nationally, the Alliance is committed to initiating positive and constructive partnerships that advance our region. If you're a nonprofit, elected official, business or individual interested in increased economic mobility and quality educational opportunities, we want to work with you. Let's roll up our sleeves, respect our differences, and get to work. The Portland of 2019 depends on it.
The New Year is also an opportunity to reinforce bridges already connecting our community.
An important part of what makes us an "alliance" are the ways we build connections through our programs and initiatives: Downtown Portland Clean & Safe District, Partners in Diversity, Leadership Portland and the Small Business Management Scholarship Program — to name a few.
This year, Downtown Portland Clean & Safe celebrated 30 years, making it one of the oldest, largest and most successful Enhanced Service Districts in the nation. Every day, cleaners, hired as a part of Central City Concern's homeless-to-work program, and security officers are working to ensure downtown is a welcoming place. To support these efforts, in October, we helped secure seven-day-a-week trash pick-up and invested in high-capacity garbage cans for Downtown Portland.
Partners in Diversity is a truly special program run through the Alliance's Charitable Institute. This team works with diversity influencers and other stakeholders to attract and retain professionals of color. Beyond the popular "Say Hey" events — Partners in Diversity's award-winning work in building diverse connections is leading the way for many in the region. To demonstrate the programs exceptional leadership, Partners in Diversity was selected to host of the 2019 Diversity Summit, which brings together more than 1,200 participants from across the state to discuss best practices around diversity and inclusion.
Leadership Portland is an Alliance program that aims to broaden the perspectives of business leaders on the most important issues facing the community, while also giving back. The program not only increases awareness of public-private partnerships, it also develops advanced skills in team management, creative thinking and problem solving. In the last two decades, Leadership Portland helped more than 600 professionals become stronger community leaders for our region.
And finally, the Small Business Management Scholarship Program is an Alliance program through Portland Community College's Small Business Development Center. In 2018, this unique scholarship offered 14 small businesses the chance to participate in a one-year training course that helped them increase revenue, improve operations and hire great employees.
While we're nearing the end of the holiday season, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the amazing local businesses — whether it be downtown at the PDX Pop-Up Shops or in our neighborhood business districts — that make Portland such a unique city. Like with our scholarship program, the Alliance is fully committed to ensuring these businesses prosper throughout the year.
These organizations and programs are just a few of the many ways the Alliance builds important bridges that positively impact the livability, diversity and opportunities for our members across the seven-county region. All of this is possible because of the commitment and generosity of our more than 1,900 members.
As we build on our work for 2019, it's critical to note that we are developing a new strategic plan that looks closely at our mission and vision, and sets the course for an innovative Alliance of tomorrow.