The innovation economy in the U.S. is a bright spot in an otherwise modest recovery. However, data suggest that minorities are not adequately represented in the resurgent innovation and entrepreneur‐led economy. In Portland and other cities across the U.S., African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans – and even Asian and Indian minorities ‐ significantly lag whites in economic indicators critical to the innovation economy. For example, while Black Americans own 1.9 million businesses, 1.8 million are sole proprietorships with no employees and their combined revenue represents less than 1% of U.S. GNP. By contrast, 4,025 venture‐backed businesses, largely in high tech and other innovation‐economy sectors, represent 21% of the GNP.
Our vision is that one day a person of any race or ethnicity will have the opportunity to fully capitalize on their innovative and entrepreneurial talents, aspirations and dreams, leading to fulfilling careers while contributing to job creation and economic growth.
By increasing disconnected communities’ access to skills, knowledge, relationships and capital we increase jobs, wealth and the sustainability of the entire community. IDEAL Portland brings current and future innovation entrepreneurs, innovation partners, and funders from diverse communities together to build an inclusive innovation ecosystem. Connecting the disconnected creates opportunity for a different academic, work, financial and life trajectory. Through:
- Science, technology, engineering and math‐based (STEM) education
- Innovation and high‐growth entrepreneurship
- Access to capital and wealth creation
Who We Serve
We are committed to serving present and future innovators, high‐potential high‐growth entrepreneurs, and minority investors in the Greater Portland Metropolitan region by expanding, adapting and/or creating actions, research, metrics and resources that increase the numbers of entrepreneurs, jobs and wealth in disconnected communities.
Who We Are
Led by leaders of color from the Greater Portland Metropolitan region, Ideal Portland is a socially and economically focused collaboration among the public, private and non‐profit sectors to directly connect under‐represented populations to the region’s innovation clusters. It advocates for and connects people who are traditionally disconnected from the innovation economy. Our approach is unique in that we enhance, make accessible or, if necessary, build pathways to becoming the innovators, entrepreneurs and investors who enhance global competitiveness and our regional economy.
What We Do
Collaborating with national partners like the America21 Project and regional partners like Portland Development Commission, Portland State University, Oregon Health Sciences University and Oregon Entrepreneurs Network, IDEAL Portland engages disconnected minority communities, convenes public/private partnerships and provides programs, tools and resources to bridge minority businesses into the innovation economy. Our goals are to create measurable increases in:
- STEM‐educated minority high school and college graduates
- Minority community engagement in the innovation ecosystem as entrepreneurs, science and technology generators and investors
- Investment capital formation and investments made in minority owned startups and existing businesses
- Job growth and wealth creation through innovation and entrepreneurship
Ideal Portland monitors, builds on‐ramps, fills gaps and delivers programs that help connect Portland’s economic ecosystem. We will not be redundant to existing organizations. We will work through partners first, only building and owning what are legitimate gaps to be filled. Our work is primarily in three areas:
- COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS
- RESEARCH, ADVOCACY & POLICY
- PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT
Why We Do It
IDEAL Portland has an ethic of respect for the inherent values of a healthy inclusive regional community. We are developing practices that sustain and extend those benefits to all members of current and future generations. By engaging, understanding and including diverse communities we build a sustainable, inclusive, innovation economy that is productive and ready to adapt to a rapidly changing world.