Gov. Kotek says she will convene task force to tackle Portland’s economy

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — Oregon Governor Tina Kotek plans to convene a new task force that will tackle economic revitalization in downtown Portland, focusing on issues like crime, homelessness and taxation.

The Portland Central City Task Force is a partnership with the Oregon Business Council and will be co-chaired by Kotek and Dan McMillan, president and CEO of insurance company The Standard, while also bringing in “local elected, business and community leaders,” according to a Wednesday news release from Kotek’s office. The full membership list will be released later, the news release said.

“It’s no secret that downtown Portland has faced an onslaught of challenges in recent years that have tarnished some of the characteristics that people love about Oregon’s largest city,” Kotek said in a statement. “Growing pains turned into crises, exacerbated by a global pandemic, and now concerns about Portland have become a statewide economic issue. It’s time to look forward, bring together diverse voices, and focus our energy on developing concrete and equitable solutions. I want to thank everyone who believes in Portland and is committed to building a brighter future, whether you’re a member of this task force or doing great work elsewhere.”

The news release lists five committees for the task force — Vision & Value, Clean Streets, Crime & Vandalism, Unsheltered Homelessness, and Tax Competitiveness — and says the group will “focus on identifying next steps to develop a shared vision for the Central City’s future economic growth and address immediate emergent challenges.”

The task force will meet monthly from August to October, starting Aug. 22, and will present recommendations at the Oregon Business Plan Leadership Summit in December.

This isn’t the first time Kotek has sought to take a more active hand in confronting Portland’s issues; she made an unannounced appearance before the city council shortly after winning the governor’s seat in November 2022, pledging to work with city leaders to take on homelessness and economic recovery, and Mayor Ted Wheeler said at the time that he and Kotek had agreed to continue to meet regularly every two weeks.

The reality has at times proven to be rockier; Willamette Week reported last month on a series of letters between Kotek, Wheeler, Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson in which the state leaders asked the local officials to better coordinate their behavioral health and addiction treatment efforts, only for Wheeler and Vega Pederson to push back with requests for more state funding and reductions in red tape.


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