The Greater Portland Economic Recovery Plan, a collaboration between Metro and The Greater Portland Economic Development District was released this month and presented to Metro Council at their work session on January 26. The document will help guide greater Portland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, creating a short-term, adaptable plan focused on immediate actions through June 2022.
Wealth disparities in greater Portland have disproportionately affected Black households for decades. The financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this problem. A survey by the U.S. Census Bureau found that 68.5% of Black households in the region experienced a loss of income between March 13 and June 2, 2020. Other communities have been deeply hurt as well — 53.2% of Latino households, 51.2% of mixed households, 50% of white households, and 45.4% of Asian households all reported drops in income during the same period. In light of this, the Greater Portland Recovery Plan, which has also been made available in Spanish, focuses on building opportunities for Black, Indigenous and other people of color and their businesses.
Members of the Metro Council pointed out that a quick response is essential for the region’s recovery in the wake of the pandemic, but it is also important to keep in mind the long term wellbeing of the region, pointed out members of the Metro Council. “We’re being nimble and I appreciate the amount of energy that it takes to engage people meaningfully in this environment,” said Metro Councilor Juan Carlos González. “And we need to make sure that we can help families build wealth long term, to create roots, to create place, and to make prosperity happen for everybody.”
The plan identifies three target impact areas to combat recessionary forces, address key inequities and prepare the region for recovery, including helping small businesses recover and grow, advancing economic mobility for individuals, and supporting families and children. Each of these areas contains a number of priorities, with specific recommended actions such as convening an Implementation Task Force to help lead organizations turn recommended actions into reality, and identifying immediate opportunities where the private sector can provide resources for proposed actions.
That kind of private/public collaboration is not only an important component of the plan, but also key to the region’s success. “To get our small businesses back up and running, we’re going to need to work together on a shared plan for our region.” Said Metro Council President Lynn Peterson. “This work will help greater Portland build on its strengths for an economic recovery that supports our businesses and economic justice.”