Katherine Krajnak is a Senior Business Development Officer at the Portland Development Commission (PDC), the economic development agency for Portland, Oregon. Her current focus at PDC involves projects and initiatives to bolster Portland’s high-growth entrepreneurs across industry and throughout the city. She is speaking this year at FOCUS on October 4th, 2014 in NYC, along with leaders of other local cities, for CITY Pitch.
What does PDC do?
PDC is the urban renewal and economic development agency for the City of Portland – the Portland equivalent of the NYCEDC. Our agency’s charge is to create jobs, support businesses, and create livable communities.
Our work ranges from technical assistance for small and microenterprise businesses and support for high growth, scalable companies to urban redevelopment projects and international trade missions.
Why does diversity in tech matter for PDC?
PDC values equity and inclusion as integral to our work. Our five-member board of commissioners (two of whom are African-American) is dedicated to achieving equitable outcomes from our work in the community. Portland has a challenging racial history and we at PDC believe that we can play an important role in paving a new way forward, by facilitating a more honest and genuine conversation about race in our city and by empowering a new kind of economic reality for people of color in Portland.
As we experience extreme demographic shifts in the coming decades, diversity in tech will be essential to the city’s future economic sustainability.
“Nearly 50% of children in Portland’s public school system are people of color, and our fast-growing, high wage tech industry is hungry for new talent. “
What are some of the steps PDC is taking to support diversity in tech?
We launched an initiative last year called Include. Innovate. Invest. PORTLAND (#I3PDX) as an umbrella brand for our tech and entrepreneurship inclusion initiatives. We held our own events and partnered on others that brought together people of color in technology and fostered a more open conversation about the topic – which is something that hadn’t really been done in Portland.
We also invested time in new and existing relationships and partnerships with key organizations and people in communities of color. We are very fortunate to have Deena Pierott from I Urban Teen in our midst and she’s been a great partner. Deena was recognized along with Kathryn Finney at the White House as a Tech Inclusion Champion of Change and runs a diversity consulting firm and a nationally recognized tech inclusion program for youth of color.
We conduct the Startup PDX Challenge, an annual competition which is supporting a class of diverse founders for one year with free rent, a cash grant (no equity), and free services. Our hope is to see each of the startups scale up and become mentors for the next generation!
“When I was getting our tech and entrepreneurship inclusion initiative off the ground last year, connecting with digitalundivided was the best thing I could have done. “
Why did you choose to work with digitalundivided and participate at FOCUS 2014?
When I was getting our tech and entrepreneurship inclusion initiative off the ground last year, connecting with digitalundivided was the best thing I could have done. We take a lot of inspiration from communities like Oakland and digitalundivided that now have an ecosystem to support diversity in tech and dream of having something like that here in Portland.
I have learned so much from Kathryn, Darlene, and organizations like CODE 2040 & Kapor Center. From digitalundivided in particular, I have learned about cultivating a diverse tech community and what it takes to be persistent and steadfast in support of tech founders of color. digitalundivided brings a fresh, genuine, warm yet fierce voice to the tech inclusion conversation that is unlike any other organization I have encountered. The conference is inspirational, informational and really fun.
And I can’t lie, our Portland crew would love to recruit some talented women of color startup founders to Portland and this would be the place to do it. What could be better than hanging out with the who’s who of the national tech inclusion community in New York City this October?