Contact: Shawn Uhlman, Prosper Portland, 503-823-7994
More than nine hundred small businesses will receive grants from the latest round of the Portland Small Business Relief Fund (SBRF), using $11 million in federal CARES Act funding.
The process generated 4,950 eligible grant applications.
Distribution was guided by the city’s Equity Toolkit and the knowledge that Black people, Indigenous people and all people of color have experienced the greatest impacts from the pandemic and need the most support. The grant funds will serve applicants across multiple demographic categories; all small businesses that met the eligibility requirements were considered.
The federally funded Small Business Relief Fund grants prioritized:
- Organizations that have experienced a decline in revenue as a result of COVID-19
- Organizations owned by Black, Indigenous, Asian Pacific Islander and all People of Color and/or women (or eligible nonprofits primarily serving these communities)
- Organizations for which resources will help them remain operational
- Organizations that did not receive enough federal funds
- Childcare-focused organizations (businesses as well as non-profits)
- Use of funds focused on helping operations shift, pivot, or adapt to the new COVID-19 environment
The selection process involved a committee comprising representatives from the Council for Economic and Racial Equity, Oregon Native American Chamber, Black American Chamber, Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber, and the Philippine American Chamber, as well as individuals from the business community and City Council staff. This group has been instrumental in the continued focus on equity in providing small business relief during the public health and economic crisis.
Grants of $10,000-25,000 went to 924 local businesses ranging from child care to personal service and restaurant and food establishments. Most of the recipients planned to use the funds to cover payroll, late rent or mortgages, or to adapt their business model with operational changes.
Most of the resources went to people of color and women, with approximately 88% invested in Black, Indigenous and all People of Color business owners; 452 BIPOC women-owned businesses received grants totaling more than $5 million; a quarter (25%) of the grant funds went to east Portland businesses, and 24% went to businesses in north and northeast Portland.
Recipients received notification of their successful applications on Wednesday, October 14, and will receive funds by the end of October from one of the following disbursement partners, all of which have existing grant infrastructure in place and extensive experience working with local small businesses.
Combined with the earlier relief grants to Jade District and Old Town/Chinatown businesses through Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon and the first iteration of Small Business Relief Fund grants awarded in April, Prosper Portland has provided $13,510,000 in relief funds to more than 1,200 businesses since April.
“I believe in the power of government to make people’s lives safer, happier, and better – and the Small Business Relief Fund is a prime example of that belief brought to life,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said. “Prosper Portland and its partners have quickly responded to the numerous and shifting challenges our small business community is facing with a program that directs resources to the most vulnerable groups in our city. I want to thank Prosper Portland for developing and implementing an equitable application process. I also want to acknowledge the community volunteers who dedicated multiple hours to review the nearly 5,000 applications and help staff complete the selection process. Finally, I want to thank my colleagues on City Council for their collaboration and thorough approach to allocating the federal CARES funds. Recognizing the tremendous needs local businesses have, I pledge to continue working with Portland’s private, philanthropic, and community partners in support of the small businesses that are so crucial to the health and vibrancy of our city.”
Prosper Portland Executive Director Kimberly Branam said, “We applied lessons learned in the earlier grant round to make this process more accessible, with a longer application period, comprehensive translations of materials and communication, and broad outreach. I’m very proud of our staff for their rapid and thoughtful deployment of these grants, and equally proud of the selection committee for their intentional approach to serve vulnerable populations with investments that would meaningfully support each business. At the same time, more than 4,000 businesses heard yesterday that they would not receive a grant. Given the tremendous needs our businesses face, we will continue to work tirelessly with partners to increase access to federal, state and local resources in the weeks and months ahead.”
An additional $3 million of the CARES funding has been allocated as block grants to community partners that can reach culturally specific populations and ensure the broadest reach of the funds to vulnerable communities. The block grant process will begin next week.