Stephen Green may be Oregon's most vocal cheerleader for local business. And he just got a bigger megaphone.
This week, Green was selected as board chair of Built Oregon. The Portland nonprofit provides funding, technical assistance and mentoring to companies across Oregon that make consumer products—that is, items people buy.
Green, a serial entrepreneur, connector and advocate for BIPOC-owned businesses, has served on the board of Built Oregon since its inception in 2016. Now he's going to serve as the board chair—a role he sees as potentially "more hands-on and intentional" than simply serving on the board.
Consumer products are as important in Oregon as tech is in California, he tells WW: "That's always been the DNA of Oregon. Going back to the timber industry to the Salt & Straws and the Tillamooks, we make things."
Green currently serves as chief operating officer of the startup publisher A Kids Book About, which focuses on children's books about serious issues, including racism.
And in 2015, he founded Pitch Black, a pitch competition for Black founders that's since gone national.
Built Oregon has already done what Green describes as "some very surgical work" supporting Black-owned businesses, and he hopes to continue that in 2021.
The organization's website is currently highlighting BIPOC founders for Black History Month, and Green intends to expand the availability of technical support and grow its network of mentors—which is already 150 strong.
And helping businesses navigate 2021 also means helping them stay afloat amid the economic uncertainty wrought by COVID-19. But Green also wants to help businesses stay resilient long-term.
"I'm an operator," Green says. "I run a consumer product company here in Oregon that is Black-owned. I've got the ability to really meet people where they're at because I'm going through the same things they're going through."