Portland mayor kicks off TechCrawl, praises city for tech diversity push

Portland mayor kicks off TechCrawl, praises city for tech diversity push

Hundreds of engineers, entrepreneurs, designers and other technology professionals gathered in the hot sun Wednesday evening for the fourth annual Portland TechCrawl, the kickoff event of the two-day TechFestNW conference.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales celebrated at the first stop, addressing the crowd in front of the Block 300 Building, home to fast-growing Portland companies such as Puppet Labs and CrowdCompass.

“We appreciate the fact that you have made commitments to be Portlanders,” said Hales. “You are competitors, but you are also collaborators and you are part of a community.”

Hales specifically pointed to the efforts by the tech community in Portland to push for greater diversity through the Portland Tech Diversity Pledge, a citywide effort to get more women and minorities involves in the industry.

“Thank you for stepping up for a community concern by giving opportunity to everybody, because that is who we are as a city,” said Hales.

To date, more than two dozen companies have signed the pledge, including fast-growers like Elemental Technologies, Jama Software, Zapproved and Metal Toad.

“We are going to meet you in that pledge,” said Hales, describing the announcement this week of a $3 million fund to support startups formed by underrepresented groups.

The PDC, which runs city’s economic development agency, received $1.25 million for the “Inclusive Startup Fund” from the City of Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, and Business Oregon. The goal is to raise another $1.75 million from private investors and foundations.

The fund will provide startups $20,000 to $50,000, in addition to mentoring and advising services.

“We will work with you to achieve that plan,” said Hales in the effort to diversify the industry. “That is the Portland we all want to be.”

With those remarks, Hales then encouraged folks to stay hydrated with “something that is made in Portland.”

That kicked off the TechCrawl, which took participants to more than two dozen companies in the downtown core. The evening was capped off with the GeekWire after party, hosted at OnDeck Sports Bar and supported by sponsors First Tech Federal Credit Union and Wave Broadband.

A big thanks to First Tech and Wave for helping to the make the party happen. We will be covering some of the activities at TechFestNW over the next two days.