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Portland Business Alliance announces it is not opposing the $1 billion-a-year tax increase proposed by Democrats at the Legislature.

COURTESY PORTLAND BUSINESS ALLIANCE - Portland Business Alliance Board Chair Dave Robertson at the 2019 Annual Meeting. The Portland Business Alliance unveiled a new emphasis on regionalism, diversity and partnerships Tuesday, April 30, at its 2019 annual meeting.

Although long viewed as a conservative downtown business organization, Alliance President and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Hoan said the organization was completing work on a new three-year strategic plan that includes collaboration as a primary goal. He also said the alliance was part of a surprise deal among business organization to not oppose a $1 billion-a-year tax increase for schools approved just the night before on a party-line vote by a a joint House-Senate committee of the 2019 Legislature.

Hoan and Alliance Board Chair Dave Robertson also stressed that the organization represents business far outside of the city limits. Its 1,900 members include businesses in all 36 Oregon counties, 14 other states, and three other countries. And 23 percent of the new member businesses in 2018 were owned by minorities, women or veterans.

"We are the most diverse and largest regional chamber in the state," said Robertson, the vice president for public policy at Portland General Electric.

Hoan also said the Alliance will soon move from its offices in the 200 Market Building to the World Trade Center.

The breakfast meeting was held in a ballroom at the Oregon Convention Center. Elected officials from throughout the region were among the thousands in attendance, including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, Metro President Lynn Peterson and several council members, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and a number of commissioners, most of the Washington County Commission, and several state lawmakers.

Other speakers included Ed Ray, president of Oregon State University, who urged Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and the Legislature to invest more funds in the state's pre-kindergarten through grade 20 education system.

The meeting ended with a structured interview with Oregon Health & Science University President Dr. Danny Jacobs and Portland General Electric President and Chief Executive Officer Maria Pope.

Both organizations are around 130 years old. Jacobs and Pope said planning for change are among their top priories. Jacobs said the aging population is challenging the medical profession because an increasing percent of the population have chronic illnesses. Pope said the utility is increasing its transition to renewable energy to better meet the needs of its environmentally sensitive customer base.

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