PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler unveiled a new initiative during his monthly press conference at City Hall on Monday.
The new initiative is called "Portland Means Progress" and is focused on increasing the shared economic prosperity in the community. The initiative asks employers who sign up to agree to pay employees a minimum of $15 an hour, and agree to follow one of the three following strategies.
1. Provide work experience opportunities for underrepresented youth.
2. Purchase goods and services from local minority owned businesses.
3. Engage in diversity, equity and inclusion training in the workforce.
Wheeler said they've already had several dozen companies commit to the initiative and are looking for other local businesses to join a pilot program over the next six months.
"I'm very gratified to see the strong response we've seen from local employers," Wheeler said. "Many of them said it is absolutely imperative that we do this in our community. Not only because it's the right thing to do, but because it's good business to follow these practices."
The initiative has been designed to be as seamless as possible for employers, Wheeler said.
"If you want to be competitive in this environment, you need to have a strong narrative around diversity," he said, saying the program was built "for employers who are serious about this, but maybe don't know the best way to begin diversifying their work force."
The mayor said there has been "really strong interest" from the high technology community, particularly smaller technology companies.
"They understand that technology companies are under a lot of scrutiny right now to be diverse, in terms of people of color and women," he said.
Learn more about the program at the initiative's website, portlandmeandsprogress.com.
Wheeler also spoke on other topics during his opening remarks, including the budgetary process, homelessness, affordable housing, and infrastructure.
Violence against LGBTQ people in Portland
The mayor also said he was "deeply saddened" to hear about acts of reported violence against members of the LGBTQ community in Portland.
"We know this is not new. We know these things happen all the time. As the mayor of this community, I'm aware of these issues and take them very seriously," he said.
Wheeler said he stands with the LGBTQ community and has asked the Portland Police Bureau to make sure any reports of these crimes are prioritized.
"I just want the [LGBTQ] community to know that they have an open line to my office," he said.
Is 5G technology harmful?
Wheeler also spoke about 5G technology. On Wednesday, the Portland City Council will discuss a resolution that would ask the federal government to study potentially harmful effects of the new technology.
A resolution introduced by Wheeler and City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly claims some studies suggest that 5G technology could increase cancer risks for people exposed to it.
"There is evidence to suggest that exposure to radio frequency emissions generated by wireless technologies could contribute to adverse health conditions such as cancer. Wireless companies in the U.S. say they'll have to install about 300,000 new antennas, close to the total number of cell towers built over the past three decades. This substantial increase in cell towers deployed in communities means greater contact with them," reads the resolution.
Wheeler also spoke at length about the issue of competing protesters fighting in Portland's streets and the police's role in managing these protests, including the use of body cams.