B = Builders GR = Grassroots P = Policy F = Financial
G = Green C = Culture E = Establishment R = Rising Star
Charles McGee III
The Black Parent Initiative’s founder changes families.
Signature move: McGee burst on to the civic scene six years ago, staging a quixotic (and unsuccessful) run for school board as a 19-year-old. More quietly, that same year he founded the Black Parent Initiative. Today, BPI runs educational programs to boost parenting, health, financial, literacy, and academic skills in Portland’s African American community. The work has helped scores of families—and marked McGee as a grassroots star on the rise.
What’s next: McGee plans to double the number of households BPI serves through a partnership with the state’s Department of Human Services, and to expand the organization’s programs to the growing black population on the outer east side. (ANW)
Robert Sacks and David Schrott
Stark Street’s reinventors decode Portland’s development DNA.
Signature move: Sacks, an attorney, and Schrott, his development partner (and nephew), began transforming SW Stark Street nearly a decade ago with a base hit: rehabbing a used bookstore into American Apparel. Then came a grand slam: the old Clyde Hotel became the retrocool Ace, populated with Kenny & Zuke’s deli, Stumptown Coffee, and acclaimed restaurant Clyde Common. Final score: a 300-yard-long pocket of curated cosmopolitanism capturing an ultra-hip Portland few knew existed.
What’s next: Turning an old bowling alley across from NE 82nd Avenue’s Madison High School into a huge mountain-biking center. “We know more about redevelopment than about mountain biking,” Schrott says, “but we know the community is hungry for it.” (ZD)
“Our world is less predictable and certain than it used to be, but that’s not all bad.”
—Bill Wyatt, Port of Portland
Portland Incubator Experiment
The Wieden & Kennedy–backed program seeds a tech hotbed.
GR F R
Signature move: In 2011, PIE—hatched by the city’s talismanic ad agency and some tech-scene players—invited eight mobile app start-ups to Portland from an applicant pool of 300. Each received $18,000, office space, and three months of exposure to mentors from Coke, Nike, Target, and Google. Among the beneficiaries: buzz-magnet Simple, which aims to replace traditional banks, and PHPFog, a platform for other start-ups to tap cloud technologies.
What’s next: After two firms in the project’s first “class” landed funding, expect future alumni lists to rise on various “Best Apps” lists while helping W&K divine media’s next mutation. (MP)
An ex-Blazers exec turned the Timbers’ buzz into box-office bonanza.
F C E
Signature move: Business and polit-ical circles are still kibitzing about team owner Merritt Paulson’s coup in moving the Timbers to Major League Soccer. A good share of the behind-the-scenes credit goes to Golub, whom Paulson headhunted to run the club’s business side. After selling out all 17 home league games, moving merchandise by the ton, and tapping hip, social-media-powered marketing to establish a ubiquitous local brand, Golub won the league’s exec of the year award.
What’s next: With 15,000 season tickets already sold out for 2012, the next challenge is maintaining a pitch-perfect relationship with soccer’s local demographic—an amalgam of DIY-culture types, ethnic communities, soccer neophytes, and those who insist on calling the game “football.” (MP)
This Korean-American marketing wiz creates a street-food empire.
GR C R
Signature move: After attaining viral celebrity with his roving Koi Fusion Korean taco truck (and frequent Twitter updates), Kwon launched locations across the city and a cash-spinning outpost in upscale, suburban Bridgeport Village. Says Kwon, “It’s just a matter of turning a ‘roach coach’ into a powerful marketing tool.”
What’s next: The 33-year-old Kwon is sketching plans for brick-and-mortar taco stations across central Portland and suburbs that, as his Bridgeport beachhead shows, are hungry for streetwise, cart-tested cuisine. (BT)
“We missed the sense of community, so we set out to create that consciously.”
—Developer Dave Schrott
Trevor Solomon and Zale Schoenborn
Two eclectic tastemakers build Portland’s national music cred.
Signature move: MusicfestNW is a club-hopping urban frenzy; Pickathon, a rustic chill-out. Both invite formidable acts to jam with Portland’s inimitable vibe. When Solomon took over MusicfestNW five years ago, he turned a scrappy local festival into a national talent-booking force—last September, the festival packed Pioneer Courthouse Square for Iron & Wine, Band of Horses, and others. Schoenborn nurtured Pickathon from a humble bluegrass/folk fest into a cross-genre gem (last summer’s lineup reads like a wise hipster’s iPod playlist), beloved for its family-friendly ethos and sustainability focus.
What’s next: Managing success. Solomon wants even bigger bands while maintaining the festival’s grassroots connections. Schoenborn recently turned to Pickathon’s fanbase for direct feedback on whether to raise ticket prices or expand capacity. (AW)
The PDC chairman charts a new course for our “other government.”
B F E
Signature move: Long a power center second only (and only sometimes second) to City Hall, PDC remade the city during the boom years. In Andrews’s three-plus years at the helm, the agency changed tack. The focus: jobs in specific industry “clusters,” like sustainability, software, sportswear, and manufacturing. Observers credit Andrews as a quiet force for order and focus, helping Mayor Sam Adams pull off coups like last May’s announcement of SoloPower’s 500-job manufacturing plant.
What’s next: PDC’s cluster strategy comes with a side helping of cash to remake main-street business districts in neighorhoods desperate for jobs, like the east side’s Cully and Parkrose. (ZD)