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Portland mayor rethinking urban renewal districts

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales is considering retiring or shrinking urban renewal efforts in the Pearl District to return $43 million in added property taxes to the local government.

The glitzy Pearl District, along with gritty Old Town and Chinatown, constitute the River District urban renewal area, one of the PDC’s biggest redevelopment success stories. But the district also keeps $2.17 billion in property off the regular tax rolls to finance continuing redevelopment.

If the city were to close down the entire River District urban renewal area this year, the PDC could put the property back on the tax rolls seven years earlier than planned, says Patrick Quinton, PDC executive director. But the city, county and schools still would have to wait until 2018 to get an infusion of property taxes, he says, because that’s how long the PDC expects it will take to pay off bonded debt from the River District.

Read more at The Portland Tribune.

 

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There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


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