Portland, Oregon: A Sense of Place & Community!

Portland, Oregon: A Sense of Place & Community!

By Stella Johnson

To an outsider, pre-conceived notions of what Portland is like to live in or visit is not always on target. While some might consider it too edgy, bohemian, or free-thinking in its ways, the many virtues of Portland say otherwise. Virtues like hospitality, friendliness, environmental sustainability, and inclusiveness– issues that are so important in the meetings and event industry today. As for that high-spiritedness, well, that overflows too, creating a most welcoming atmosphere for first-time visitors and meeting-goers alike. 

Take its Oregon Convention Center. Located on the east side of the Willamette River, in the bustling Lloyd neighborhood of the downtown area, city officials put a lot of forethought and effort into the type of atmosphere it wanted visitors to experience from the moment they step into its lobby. Built in 1990 and remodeled five years ago, the creative intent from the start was to make visitors feel comfortable and safe while attending a meeting or convention in Portland. Upon its conception, city officials felt that convention centers too often had a tendency of being like airports, hectic and confusing, and they wanted to change that for the better. For Portland’s convention center, they wanted visitors to feel comfortable and welcome – and especially to know what city they were in! 

Always a city on the move, Portland’s downtown is a fascinating urban scape anchored by the Oregon Convention Center, as well as other worthy venues like the Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Moda Center to name only two possible choices for an offsite event. Within the mix are wonderful hotels, as well as popular restaurants, exciting nightspots, unique shops, cultural sites, historic attractions and more. Whether attending a huge national convention or smaller event, Portland delights visitors with its uniqueness and innovative features. For instance, almost everything is “a short light rail or streetcar stop away.” Again, a strict proponent of inclusiveness and hospitality, meeting attendees will automatically feel like family no matter what neighborhood they are exploring.

While Portland’s changing skyline includes commercial and residential projects alike, visitors will also see plenty of neighborhood parks and plazas where people like to mix, mingle and congregate. In fact, visitors might get to witness an occasional protest or demonstration firsthand. On that subject, the convention center website clarifies: “Demonstrations should not be a concern for convention and meeting groups, as they occur infrequently. Protests are mainly isolated, non-violent events by small groups of people with permits from authorities and, typically, they do not disrupt daily life in the city.”

For getting around during off hours, public transportation is highly recommended and is considered a safe and efficient way to move around and explore. Visitors can feel safe as both the city and Portland Police Bureau work together with community and law enforcement to develop programs and partnerships for a safer city for everyone at all times. 

“We really wanted to emphasize Oregon — as a sense of place. We wanted to inform people, ‘You’re in Oregon,’ from the moment they walk in until the moment they leave,” explained Craig Stroud, executive director of the Oregon Convention Center. That’s not difficult either since “Oregon’s natural splendor” is felt at every turn within the center. 

Owned and operated by Metro, and managed through the Metropolitan Exposition Recreation Commission, the Oregon Convention Center (OCC) is one of the largest meeting venues in the Pacific Northwest. It offers 255,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, 52 meeting rooms, two grand ballrooms, full-service catering and an 800-space underground parking garage, among other amenities and features. For more information: www.oregoncc.org.


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