Wonks R Us

Where Public Policy and Small Business Meet

Standard Introductory Post

Although I may play entrepreneur, consultant, networker extraordinaire or any of the other roles I play on a day-to-day basis, I am really just a policy wonk at heart.  Doubt the veracity of that statement?  Check out the report I wrote for the City Club of Portland.

When I was asked to join Portland’s Small Business Advisory Council, I was very excited because it gave me a justifiable forum through which to express my wonkiness,  while still “working” to support Portland microbusinesses.  I have been itching for a medium through which to share the information I glean about the oh-so-exciting intersection of public policy and small business.   However, David has made it clear that it really doesn’t belong on the CubeSpace blog, and I didn’t to overwhelm any of the blogs where I write occasional guest posts.  So being the genius that I am, it only took a couple of years to realize that I could create my own blog on the subject.

Today I confirmed, once again, that Portland has an amazing city government that works hard to walk its talk.  There is a lot of talk about sustainability in this town and it is not hard to imagine it just becoming yet another buzzword.  However, I just learned about the City of Portland’s Sustainable Procurement Policy and I was very impressed by it.  When David and I were developing CubeSpace’s value statement three years ago, the focus of sustainability was all about the planet, with little focus on people or economic viability.  The continues to be the case in many, many situations.  However, the City’s Sustainable Procurement Policy creates a very high standard with an eye not just towards short-term impact, but at the lifecycle impact of the decisions we make right now.  This gives City employees the opportunity to purchase items that may cost more in the short term, but that make sense given a longer range view.

I learned about all this in the context of a new policy that the Bureau of Purchases is developing; a “sweatshop free” procurement policy.  This policy (still in development) will require the entire chain of production, from sewing to selling comply with fair labor practices.  This is an ambitious goal and will require that the City work with their vendors to come into compliance.  However, local governments are huge purchasers and trend-setters like Portland can change the way that governments do business by modeling best practices.

Me? I am just happy to be a taxpayer (as both a resident and business owner) in a city that makes values-based decisions on how they spend public money.

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