History of VOIS

In 2009, there was a City of Portland-led effort to organize, support and promote sustainable businesses. About 40 or 50 business leaders were involved, many of them having collaborated on several PDX Lounge installations at GreenBuild. The main goal to come out of this process was the establishment of a permanent place where sustainable Portland businesses could promote their products and services and tell the stories of sustainability in a way that would influence the larger community. It would also serve as a gathering space and a resource for the city’s large network of sustainable businesses.

A site was located and tenant improvements were started. Then in early 2009, responding to an impending budget crisis, the City suddenly canceled its financial support of this project without consulting its partners, the sustainable businesses who had contributed so much to the process. The sustainable business community was deeply disappointed and objected to the City, arguing that it wasn’t actually a lot of money and the benefits to the region would be well worth it. In response we got an eye-opening lesson that a few dozen small businesses don’t get a lot of traction at City Hall. After considering their collective resources, a handful of sustainable business leaders decided to pick up where the City had left off. A few phone calls and emails and the group that would become known as VOIS was sparked to life.

These early experiences clarified a few things for us. First, we should not wait around for the City or anybody else to organize sustainable businesses into a consolidated force. As an independent organization, we wouldn’t be vulnerable to canceled funding or changing administrations. Furthermore, we would be in a position to join together to lobby the City as needed…and the State for that matter. We were starting to understand that there was a vacuum in Oregon where the voice of progressive business should be impacting policy on a local, State and national level and that that vacuum was crying out to be filled, and that we were the right people to take on that challenge, and that there was no time to waste in getting started.

Voice for Oregon Innovation & Sustainability
PO Box 12223 | Portland, OR 97212
| info@voisalliance.org
© 2017 VOIS Alliance