City of Portland announces recipients of emergency small business grants, opens loan program

By: Ted Sickinger - Apr 07, 2020
Source: The Oregonian

The City of Portland’s economic development agency said Tuesday that more than 200 small businesses will receive grants from a relief fund set up with $1 million in general fund money form the city.

The need was substantial. The process generated 8,777 eligible grant applications in a three-day application period last week.

Grants of $2,500 went to 100 businesses with a single employee, ranging from childcare and preschool providers to health and wellness services, local food carts, and coffeehouses.

Another 100-plus grants between $5,000 and $10,000 are going to businesses with between two and 26 employees that are taking extraordinary measures to help their employees. That includes businesses that are paying for employees’ food, personal protective equipment and salaries.

Grant recipients are being notified Tuesday and will receive funds by Friday from one of three disbursement partners: Mercy Corps NW, Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon and Craft3.

Another round of grant recipients will be finalized later this week funded by more than $300,000 that local banks provided to the Oregon Community Foundation.

In addition, a small business loan program administered by Prosper Portland will open for applications Wednesday at 9 a.m. and close Saturday. Portland businesses with $5 million or less in annual revenues can apply for interest-free loans of up to $50,000. More information on that program is available here.

The grant program prioritized businesses owned by minorities and women, business that traditionally have less access to credit, and those for whom the extra resources would help them stay in business and continue to pay employees and cover health care premiums.

Based on the applications received in a 3 days window last week, Prosper Portland said the identified need was probably in the neighborhood of $50 million.

Prosper Portland Executive Director Kimberly Branam said the grants program was always intended as a stopgap measure while businesses wait for federal relief to come through. She added that businesses are at a particularly painful juncture right now waiting for that stimulus , and she said she hoped it wouldn’t feel so dire in a few weeks.

“We always knew $1 million was not going to be a sufficient amount,” she said.