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For families to thrive, and for our social safety net to be strong, we need great companies that generate family-wage jobs.

COURTESY: PBA - Vanessa Sturgeon of TMT, SDP and the PBA.

Unless you've sat through a board meeting or joined us for a panel discussion at our Forum Breakfast, you may not realize what a pragmatic bunch of community leaders make up the Portland Business Alliance.

As the region's chamber of commerce, we are a voice for the largest and most diverse business network in the region.

We want Portland to remain a destination where talented people — and businesses — desire to put down roots and build a legacy of their own. To that end, we are actively collaborating to keep the Portland-metro region's economy strong and thriving, with opportunities for inclusive economic prosperity.

We know the key to realizing our vision of a healthy Oregon economy is private-sector employers, the large, medium and small businesses that make up our economic ecosystem. That is why we are committed to advocating on behalf of our members for a region that benefits everyone. For families to thrive, and for our social safety net to be strong, we need great companies that generate family-wage jobs. These jobs will address the growing income inequality facing our community, especially those critically important middle-income jobs in sectors like manufacturing, construction, health care and technology.

But it's not just the work we do on behalf of our members that makes a difference in our region; it's the work our members do in the community every day. With nearly 1,900 members located across Portland's seven-county region — from solo-preneurs to major employers, from privately held to publicly traded, there is a lot a good being done for the community.

That's why it's so important to stop and take a moment to celebrate those who are champions in our community. Those who are doing outstanding service every day, not for the thank you, but because they believe it's the right thing to do for our community as a whole.

On Nov. 6, nearly 600 leaders will gather to celebrate the role our business community plays in making Portland a better place for everyone at our annual Business Leadership Evening, generously hosted this year by presenting sponsor Wells Fargo.

At the Business Leadership Evening, we are pleased to welcome keynote speaker and member, Gale Castillo, interim executive director of the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, owner of Cascade Centers, Inc. and Portland board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Gale will reflect on her own story and how encouraging opportunities for individuals can have a ripple effect in benefitting entire communities.

This event is also where we take a moment to recognize leaders who exemplify what it means to give back to their community with the William S. Naito Outstanding Service Award. Since 1985, the Portland Business Alliance has given an annual service award to a member who has performed exceptional leadership and service to the Alliance in bettering the community. The award was renamed in the 1990s in honor of the late Bill Naito, whose work over a lifetime exemplified the values that the Alliance recognizes — community service, philanthropy and leadership.

We are excited to recognize this year's recipient, Greg Ness, Chairman, President and CEO of StanCorp Financial Group, Inc. and Standard Insurance Company. Greg joined Standard Insurance Company in 1979 and has since held a succession of positions with increasing responsibilities. Along the way, he's also built a following of community leaders in the arts, education and youth outreach, who all say he is someone who exemplifies what it means to "leave it better than you found it." For this reason and many more, we are excited to honor Greg Ness with this special recognition.

Outstanding leadership doesn't happen overnight. It takes hard work, pragmatic decision making and thoughtful engagement. As chair of the region's chamber of commerce, I'm proud to be part of what makes our community an outstanding place to live.

I encourage you to be a part of our efforts to engage in healthy conversations between businesses, civic and community leaders. When we collaborate and stay engaged, we have the opportunity to make the future better for everyone here in the greater Portland region.

For more information about upcoming events, including Business Leadership Evening, visit: PortlandAlliance.com.

Vanessa Sturgeon is chair of the board of directors, Portland Business Alliance and is president and CEO of TMT Development.


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