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Make the Convention Center Hotel a Reality

Project would bring good jobs and grow local businesses

By Roy Jay | 1/15/2014, 1:10 p.m.
"For the past 20 plus years, there has been talk about the need for Portland to have a convention center ...
Roy Jay

For the past 20 plus years, there has been talk about the need for Portland to have a convention center headquarter hotel. Lack of political leadership in the past kept us on square one. Voters approved a beautiful multimillion dollar convention center that opened in 1990 that would be the epicenter of many future national meetings, conferences and conventions.

Portland now has a real chance to make this headquarter hotel become a reality on the east side of the Willamette, but there is a small group of hotels, well financed (only 7) that have launched a campaign to stop the efforts. They did not object when taxpayer dollars were used to build The Nines hotel, the OHSU Tram or Jeld Wen Field.

The proposed hotel would complement not only the convention center but also the Moda Center which attracts many people from out of town. Development of the close-in east side will spur even more jobs, businesses and visitors to our city. But opponents want to take the matter to the voters in an effort to keep all of the business in downtown Portland.

Opponents offer nothing other than self-serving interest. The fact that this hotel will provide higher paying jobs because it will be union-built and operated, will be a plus for Portland’s marketing efforts. Portland has only two union-operated hotels, both downtown. One of which is more historic and not orientated toward conventions. We lose some government groups and union conventions because we do not have enough union hotels. There is a reason why government officials including Presidents can only stay at two hotels in Portland.

The old saying “if we build it, they will come” is so true in this case. We no longer have time to be so politically correct that we lose future opportunities. After all, the people that are screaming the loudest are paying their employees the least amount of money while their owners fly private jets and spend more time on the golf course.

We need to be team players and work for the greater good of our entire city not just a select few. I’m not just blowing in the wind, you see I have been one of the many hard working soldiers selling Portland to out of town associations, organizations and individuals for the past 20 plus years.

We know how tough it is to compete when we are going to a gun fight with a knife (not literally). Spokane has now become a competitor to Portland and recently announced a 700 room convention center hotel. Yes, this is not a misprint. I said Spokane. In the meantime, local opponents want to take this matter to the public for a voter referendum and throw the baby out with the bath. All the reports from their so-called experts are gibberish. They do not live in Portland and their data focuses on recession and 9-11 economic scenarios. We are unique.

So if you happen to see a paid petitioner at the mall, downtown or at your front door wanting you to sign up to kill the headquarter hotel, simply ask them if this project will increase your taxes. (Remember $10 per hour petitions will tell you anything to get your signature). In reality, this project will not cost local taxpayers a single dime.