A delegation led by Travel Portland traveled to Washington, D.C. September 21-23 to pitch Portland as a meeting destination to planners attending the national Black Caucus Convention. Prosper Portland’s invitation was inspired by our work with the Mercatus, an online platform that highlights entrepreneurs of color through storytelling and a comprehensive business directory. Mercatus offers meeting planners the opportunity to enhance conference-goers’ experience of Portland by curating their connections with local businesses of color.
Travel Portland’s Multicultural Jazz Brunch, themed Culture/Community/Collaboration, showcased the best of Portland and the city’s wide range of small businesses run by entrepreneurs of color, drawing an enthusiastic response from nearly 100 meeting planners, including those from African American-centric groups like the National Urban League and the Association of Blacks in Energy.
Royalty Spirits founder Chaunci King, a graduate of Prosper Portland’s Startup PDX Challenge, talked about her company at the brunch and said, “I believe we opened the ears of the audience a little bit more about the professionalism and services of black businesses in Portland. “ As the first African American, woman-owned distiller in the Pacific Northwest, King generated oohs and ahhs from the crowd and a line of interested business prospects immediately following her presentation.
Prosper Portland’s Tory Campbell also accompanied Travel Portland. “We heard from several meeting planners that cities don’t do a good enough job connecting convention-goers to local businesses, particularly business owners of color,” he said. “We want to do better and will be working with Travel Portland on upcoming site visits with potential conference planners.”
Tamara Kennedy-Hill, vice president of diversity and community relations at Travel Portland, said, “The partnership with Prosper Portland’s Mercatus platform, elevating entrepreneurs of color, allowed for another successful client program. We look forward to more opportunities to connect diverse Portland businesses with new markets.”
One such opportunity will be My People’s Market: Elevating and Connecting Entrepreneurs of Color on Thursday, November 9, at The Redd, 831 Southeast Salmon Street, from 4:30 to 8:00 p.m. Local business owners of color will showcase their goods and services to marketing, human resources and purchasing professionals at a VIP reception, followed by an open marketplace for the general public.