In many cities and towns throughout the country, businesses are struggling thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But now, in cities like Portland and Seattle, they are facing an even greater danger due to the continued unrest and rioting that runs rampant in their streets.
Portland, where some of the worst damage has happened, has seen nearly 90 straight days of protest in the downtown area. And almost every other night, those protests get so out of hand, they are declared as riots.
In the morning, the city and its business owners wake to find windows smashed, stores robbed of their inventory, entire shops burned to the ground, and thousands and thousands of dollars in damages. And unfortunately, it’s the kind of one-two punch many will never be able to recover from, at least not in Portland.
All the damage and chaos, as one business developer recently pointed out to Portland’s Mayor, Ted Wheeler, is causing an exodus of sorts from the city.
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According to local news outlet KOIN, Greg Goodman, the co-president of the Downtown Development Group, has noticed a scary trend in the downtown area of Portland, where business once thrived. He says the number of companies leaving the area is “like nothing I have ever seen in 42 years of doing business in downtown.”
Goodman even wrote a letter to Mayor Wheeler warning of this trend and letting him know that unless something changes and soon, that number will only rise.
In the letter, Goodman notes that in recent weeks, he has seen businesses like Daimler Trucking North America, AirB&B, Banana Republic, Microsoft, Saucebox, and Google, are all trying to pick up and leave the area. Microsoft is permanently closing their retail space as well as leaving their 80K square foot lease, and Google, who leases a 90K SF area in the Macy’s building, has been forced to stop construction of “their improvements.”
And as Goodman says, “The list goes on and on. If you know a retail or office broker, give them a call and ask them how many clients they have been trying to leave.”
He goes on to note that the businesses aren’t leaving because of the BLM matter or even the protests. In fact, he notes that the movement in and of itself has been a “positive” thing. Instead, it has “everything to do with the lawlessness you are endorsing downtown.”
Goodman notes, as so many others have, that the protests are unfortunately allowing those who may not know George Floyd or even care about the situation to “ransack our city at the expense of the people you are trying to help.”
He asks the mayor and city officials to think about those who are now out of work, not because of COVID, but because of the damages, their employers have sustained from the near-constant vandalism. In addition, he encourages them to take a walk downtown some morning for themselves, even offering to give them a tour. He says what they will find is evidence that they are doing diddly squat to help.
“You aren’t sweeping the streets, needles are all over the place, garbage cans are broken and left open, glass from car windows that have been broken out is all over the streets, parks are strewn with litter (their fountains turned off) weeds are taller than the plants in planter boxes, graffiti is on sculptures, etc. You are willfully neglecting your duties as elected officials to keep our city safe and clean.”
Goodman then asks what they have done to help businesses at all. It’s no wonder many are leaving. Who would want to stay in a place where they aren’t appreciated or backed?
The mayor and other city officials need to show the city they still care before it’s too late. If they don’t, they will soon be looking at a city devoid of any kind of sustaining jobs or businesses. Goodman suggests they start by cleaning things up and controlling the lawlessness.
And he’s not far from wrong. Maybe if city leaders start acting as though they care, others will follow and stand up to the chaos that has gone on for far too long.