PORTLAND – The group of citizens charged with overseeing a $2.3 million fund used to stimulate economic development in Portland has voted to change its name.

Members of the Downtown Portland Corporation voted unanimously Thursday night to change its name to the Portland Development Corporation.

They say the new title will more accurately reflect their mission, which is to provide loans and grants to business and industry throughout the city, not just in Portland’s downtown district.

The proposed name change must still go before the Portland City Council on Oct. 17 for final approval.

“Personally, I think the PDC is more elegant sounding than the PEDC (the acronym for Portland Economic Development Corporation, a name previously considered),” board member Sam Spencer said.

The city created Downtown Portland Corporation in 1991. The City Council appoints the 11 board members.

At a meeting earlier this month, members said they would support changing the board’s name to the Portland Economic Development Corporation (PEDC).

But that idea was dropped because of potential confusion with another organization that uses a similar moniker, “Greater Portland Economic Development Corporation,” said board president Donna Katsiaficas.

Greg Mitchell, the city’s economic development director, said by rebranding the organization its members hope to attract more interest from the business community as well as play a greater role in its economic development activities.

Board members also approved several policy and procedural changes aimed at streamlining the organization’s loan program and for the first time allow loan recipients the option of refinancing.

Downtown Portland Corporation currently has 19 outstanding loans to city business totalling $1.1 million.

“The purpose of this list of reforms is to make these loans more accessible and to put more money into our local economy,” Spencer explained.

Downtown Portland also approved a new public benefit grant program that will allow businesses to apply for grants up to $75,000. Grants must be matched by another funding source.

Mitchell said the grants must carry out economic development projects and programs that are included in Portland’s Economic Vision and Development Plan.

That plan, which was completed in August, will be presented to the City Council next month for its review.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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