[Update: Download the meeting notes (PDF, 130K)]
Last night in City Hall, a rep from the Portland Development Commission (PDC), Commissioner Sam Adams (and staff) and other interested stakeholders joined a group of Portland’s bicycle industry leaders in the first meeting in a burgeoning effort to make Portland the most desirable place in the country to do bike business.
Commissioner Sam Adams at City Hall]
In attendance was a diverse group that included:
- Bike Gallery owner Jay Graves
- Joseph Ahearne of Ahearne Cycles
- Tony Tapay from River City Bicycles
- Sacha White of Vanilla Bicycles
- Andy Newlands of Strawberry Bicycle
- Austin and Natalie Ramsland of Sweetpea Bicycles
- Chris Distefano from Chris King Precision Components
- Ed Dalton from Showers Pass Clothing
- Jim Bombardier from Bycycle Inc.
- Ray Goody from Sapa Profiles, Inc.
- Chad Krueger of Portland Cyclewear
- Three reps from the Portland Oregon Visitor’s Association
- Meeky Blizzard from Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s office
- Lavinia Gordon from PDOT
Sitting around a circle of conference tables, the group listened to Commissioner Adams say that he wants to make Portland the “it place” for the cycling industry.
“When I took over as transportation commissioner over a year ago I felt like the cycling industry was languishing within the PDC, due to their huge workload and many other responsibilities. That why my office lent a hand to make bicycles and related products an official targeted industry.”
PDC liasion Jennifer Nolfi and Adams’ senior policy director Maria Thi Mai gave a report about their successful trip to the Interbike trade show. Nolfi reported that there are, “a handful of companies that want to be here in the short or long term.”
Commissioner Adams and Chris King Precision Components marketing director Chris Distefano said the time is now to leverage Portland’s national popularity and reputation. According to Distefano, “Portland has a great name in the industry right now,” and Adams chimed in that we need to “capture that fad.”
The meeting was an opportunity for companies to speak up about how PDC and the City of Portland can help them build their business and to identify what programs, ideas, and initiatives should be worked on.
Ray Goody of Sapa Profiles, Inc. said he has a major need for welders. His company specializes in shaping aluminum into bike frames and does work for many large bike companies.
There was a lot of discussion around forming a new bicycle industry association and that led to a conversation about the potential of creating some sort of Portland bike industry show or bike festival.
I lent my support to the forming of a new bike industry association because I see it as an imperative step to move this effort forward. An association would facilitate communication, advocacy, business and marketing training, and would give the region’s bike industry a more powerful seat at the table.
At the end of the meeting all the ideas we’d discussed were tallied up and everyone was asked to vote for their top three. The ideas getting the most votes were than assigned subcommittees who will meet and begin making them happen. Here are the three ideas:
- Organize a major bike race in Portland like the San Francisco Gran Prix (Commissioner Adams was very interested in this idea)
- Start some financial and technical assistance programs
- Create a bicycle industry association similar to the Oregon Brewers Guild (this idea received nearly unanimous support).
This is an exciting effort that we’ll be hearing much more about in the future.