Venture Portland is the support organization for all of Portland’s neighborhood business districts, providing members funding, training and significant staff support. Since 1986 Venture Portland has helped business districts city-wide best meet the needs of their diverse communities. We invite you to discover the ways Venture Portland can support your business district by navigating this section and contacting us today.

Dear Venture Portland Partners, 

It goes without saying that 2020 was one for the books!  The work you perform within your district associations (BDAs) is more important than ever. In these continuing difficult times, BDAs truly hold communities together. Venture Portland is honored to be a part of your continued efforts. As Portland adapts to an ever-changing economy and faces monumental issues, Venture Portland is striving to keep small businesses open and front-and-center while preserving the unique character of Portland’s 50 neighborhood business districts. 

 Earlier this year, Venture Portland streamlined our operations to be more responsive to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and fine-tuned our Board of Directors to be a “working board” of small business professionals. We have expanded our trainings to help BDA’s deal with real time issues, increased our community engagement, formed an Equity and Outreach Committee, re-envisioned our grants program with a focus on DEI to amplify BIPOC-owned businesses, and supported BDAs through increased technical assistance. Venture Portland’s Executive Committee is a truly amazing powerhouse made up of small business owners who volunteer over 100 hours per month to support our work. Your membership makes all of this work possible.  

Beginning this spring, Venture Portland expanded efforts to aid business districts in crisis and continues to do so. Here is a shortlist highlighting a few of our on-going pivots: 

  • Launched District Resilience Funding Stream 
  • Created Covid-19 and BIPOC Resource Guides 
  • Moved from in-person trainings to monthly webinars with timely topics such as Instagram as a Marketplace, Commercial Evictions, Visual Merchandising and OLCC/OSHA Inspections 
  • Started the “I Am A Small Business” and #SupportSmallPDX marketing campaigns 
  • Produced the Small Business Portland podcast 
  • Created a timely weekly press release featuring the work of business district associations 
  • Created the “Friday email” highlighting the work of Venture Portland, BDA’s and small businesses 

A full list of 2021 membership benefits is below. You can renew your district’s membership online via Paypal or simply mail a check to our office.

In fiscal year 2019-20, Venture Portland: 

  • Donated 9,386 of volunteer time to business district associations 
  • Provided 2,341 hours of technical assistance and trainings to business district associations 
  • Awarded $83,800 in grants to business district associations 

Grants and Emerging District Support

Your business district association is eligible for up to $16,000 per year! Build your bottom line through Venture Portland’s grants.

  • Marketing and Membership Grants – provide tactical financial support for year-over-year growth
  • District Enhancement Grants – fund physical improvements that enhance customer/visitor experience, reinforce district identity and promote district as destination
  • Staffing Grants – invest in first-time or ongoing district staffing
  • Grants Office Hours – provide grant planning, writing, implementation and evaluation support

Personalized Technical Assistance and Consulting Services

Last year we provided 2,300+ hours of assistance in areas including economic development, governance, membership, revenue and personnel.

  • District Demographic Data – provides access to district specific metrics and analysis
  • Fee-for-Service Consulting – expanded menu provides design, membership, staffing and strategic governance options with deeply discounted member prices (see Consulting Menu)
  • Annual Check-Up™ – helps associations implement best practices and prioritize activities with easy-to-use templates
  • Mentoring Connections – links business district leaders to discuss shared issues and best practices
  • Just Ask Joy – Venture Portland’s Executive Director answers your burning questions in her monthly advice column

Marketing and Promotion

Stretch your reach and your marketing dollars with Venture Portland’s eblasts, social media and website.

  • Weekly Press Release – sent to our media list and our list of 2,800+ subscribers, highlights district events, promotions and businesses
  • Friday Email – a weekly letter from Venture Portland’s Executive Director and President with updates about Venture Portland activities and business district-related news
  • org – continually updated with district-related information including COVID and BIPOC resources, training videos, news, a business district map and more.
  • Social Media – 3x/week business-district postings to 3,600+ followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter
  • Small Business Portland Podcast – features interviews with business district leaders and industry-specific developments
  • Sponsorship Opportunities – get your business or district featured on our eblasts, website and webinars

Webinars and Panel Discussions

Attend free webinars and panel discussions, network with business district colleagues, address challenges, strengthen your programs and achieve success for your district and its businesses.

  • Learn best practices from local and national experts; easy-to-use templates and samples help business districts implement training information


Harness the power of Venture Portland’s advocacy efforts for your business district. Venture Portland has strong relationships with elected officials, bureau staff, opinion leaders and community stakeholders.

  • City Council Liaison – provides direct support to neighborhood businesses and business districts

Current issues being watched on behalf of business districts include:

  • Livability and Public Safety – advocated for increased public safety services in neighborhood business districts
  • Holiday Construction Blackout (no permits issued) – protected retail sales with a City moratorium on construction/closure permits between Black Friday-Christmas
  • Zoning – represents district interests on zoning/design overlay, apartment building parking, non-conforming use and fees; advocated to maintain Industrial Sanctuaries/Employment land

Interest Groups

Connect with colleagues from business districts city wide during informal, peer-based conversations.

  • Officers Training (annual) – trains Officers and explains their legal responsibilities
  • President’s Council (quarterly) – connects Presidents with fellow district leaders
  • Treasurer’s Roundtable (biannual) – connects Treasurers to share financial best practices
  • Staffers (quarterly) – creates peer network and increases staffing skills by sharing best practices

Representation on Venture Portland’s Board of Directors

As a current member of Venture Portland, your business district association (BDA) may choose to nominate one of your current board members to be on the Venture Portland Board of Directors. As a member of Venture Portland, your BDA is NOT required to have (or to nominate) one of your own board members to serve on the Venture Portland Board of Directors.

Criteria for Nominations:

We highly encourage you to nominate a person who:

  • Currently works at a business within your district
  • Is a current member of your board
  • Demonstrates a high level of confidentiality, loyalty, and active volunteerism
  • Has time to dedicate up to ten hours per month to the Venture Portland Board of Directors
  • Understands that they represent your BDA rather than representing their own goals and/or agenda
  • Will act as the liaison between your board and Venture Portland’s Board of Directors
  • Brings new ideas, has a positive “working” attitude, and who represents your district and your board

This position is ideal for your new board members who may have limited experience on a Board. Serving as a Venture Portland Board member will give them insights into governance, advocacy, and trainings that they can then share with your own board.