I’m guilty.  I wasn’t born or raised in Oregon but moved to Portland almost 8 years ago with my husband via Saigon Vietnam after leaving our home in Houston Texas.  It’s a long story.  In our quest to find food and buy Asian stuff, we found the Jade District. Like other metropolitan areas, the Asian community no longer gathered in central parts of town but on the peripheral where land prices and space is more available.   It reminded me of Bellaire – the part on the peripheral of Houston – where the Asian community gathers and the small businesses are more than retail or service spaces – but a source of identity, a place for information, support.  

One of the four pillars of Jade District work is Small Business – sustainability and development.  These are the reasons why.

Community Identity

Spice Kitchen. Heidi’s Hair. Mojo Crepes. Thai Fresh. Chang Fa Supermarket. Fubonn.  You’ll likely notice that the community has its own unique character and charm. We have prioritized preserving the unique character of a vibrant small business community because it is an advantage of this community.   People settle down around SE 82nd Avenue and SE Division to be near these conveniences but local visitors and tourism is drawn here because it is a community.

Community Involvement

Small business owners are an integral part of the communities in which they live and work. They tend to be cognizant of how their decisions may impact their neighbors. As the community of business owners become stronger and more stabilized they In addition, local small business entrepreneurs tend to be involved in the community.  

Community Health

In addition to contributing to the local community’s unique identity and being involved locally, small business owners help to build a sense of community. Their businesses tend to be people businesses. Small business owners are more likely to build personal relationships with their customers, knowing many of them by name.

Many small business owners band together, forming casual or formal relationships, such as a merchant’s association or one-on-one counseling and mentoring relationships. These relationships leverage the expertise of the participants to contribute to the business community’s long-term success. They are also often a key tool for engendering goodwill between business owners, so that as foot traffic to one business increases, other nearby businesses benefit through increased exposure and word-of-mouth referrals.

Increasing the Tax Base

When local residents shop at small businesses within their communities, their tax dollars stay within the local economy, helping to improve their community as a result. Likewise, local small businesses tend to buy locally as well, pumping more of their profits back into the community than their chain store counterparts, helping with economic development.

Local Jobs

Small businesses are job creators, and most of those jobs are local jobs. Rather than having to commute to another city, employees work closer to home. Supporting local businesses also helps your fellow community members who work at them. When a community has a vibrant commercial center, it also creates ample opportunities for these workers to shop at other local small businesses. They grab lunch or dinner from local restaurants, run errands on their break, and grab drinks from local bars. This keeps money local and further creates a tight-knit community vibe.


Small businesses are the product of the business owner’s entrepreneurial spirit. By starting a small business, the business owner is taking charge of his or her future. Entrepreneurship fuels economic innovation and prosperity and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and enable individuals time and opportunities to educate themselves about issues and topics on the local, state and federal stage.

Innovation and Competition

Small businesses, like any business, need to stand out from the crowd in order to survive. They must serve a legitimate need in the community and do it better than their competitors. Having multiple small businesses all striving to be unique, innovative, and better can result in a healthy marketplace and well-served consumers.

Diverse, Locally Made Products and Services

One-of-a-kind and locally made products can attract customers to a community, bolstering tourism and contributing to the local vibe. Locally made goods are also attractive to residents who want to minimize their carbon footprints, support local businesses, and keep their tax dollars close to home.