by: Joelle Jones
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A nationwide search is on to find the leader of the Portland Business Alliance’s new Black Economic Prosperity Agenda.
The new initiative was created by the PBA’s Black board members in response to the murder of George Floyd in their Call to Action for Economic Equity “The Invisible Knee.” The program aims to address economic inequities by developing a strategic plan for black economic prosperity and creating a unifying center for black economic advancement in our region.
The unique partnership with Prosper Portland, Multnomah County, the Oregon chapter of National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC-OR) and the state legislature’s BIPOC Caucus, among other state agencies, has already raised over $800,000 from private and public fundraising contributions, sparking national interest.
Motus Recruiting, a firm with decades of diverse and equitable hiring experience, has partnered with PBA in its hunt for an executive director of the new initiative.
“This is unique for Oregon: to have an initiative of this type where so many businesses have signed on to contributed to this effort,” said Orlando Williams, chief executive and equity officer at Motus Recruiting.
The role, much like the coalition that incubated the position, exists in uncharted territory.
“This person’s responsibility will be to convene, to coalition build, and create a dashboard that measures progress for our region in a way that’s going to be sustainable,” Williams explained. “So, we can find out where our gaps are… you measure what matters and you get what you measure.”
Measuring progress may prove to be the leading challenge for this position, given data on Black economic prosperity in the region has not been tracked on a wide scale before now, he added.
“The overarching responsibility is to ensure that there is a legacy of economic development for black and brown people throughout our region,” Williams said. “This person is going to be responsible for making sure that we have cross-racial economic development activities happening, that we’re incorporating black business into our economic develop organizations like PBA. That they’re represented. That they’re at the table having conversations.”
While dynamic public speaking abilities and a philanthropic background are important qualities for this position, Williams says the ideal candidate must also grasp the larger picture.
“The individual is going to have to understand that economic development for our region overall is better when Black people are involved,” Williams stated.
Williams said he believes that Portland has a long way to go but this new effort is a major step in the right direction.
Though the position centers around Black economic development, Motus Recruiting encourages candidates from all ethnic backgrounds to apply. Williams says they are open to local candidates but will strongly consider those from other regions with a more diverse population. The company hopes to have a hiring decision within the next 90 days.