Venture Portland invests $43,500 in neighborhood business districts
From the Soul District to Sellwood, grant projects are focusing on the upcoming holiday retail season. Supporting neighborhood businesses by shopping locally spreads holiday cheer: For every $100 spent at a local business, $68 returns to the local economy.
Venture Portland awarded $43,517 in funding to 19 fall and winter projects in Portland's neighborhood business districts across the city.
This round of grants leverages an additional $116,672 in private investment — almost a three to one match.
Projects range from retail-focused holiday events to dynamic district websites and first-time professional district staff, all with direct ties to the local economy.
"The Grants Committee was incredibly excited to receive a record number of grant applications from business districts," said Alison Stoll, Venture Portland's grants committee chair and Parkrose business association delegate. "Districts citywide proposed some really imaginative projects and we can't wait to see the positive impact these will have on the local economy."
Venture Portland's Grants Committee includes Venture Portland Board members and community stakeholders who evaluated a record number of grant submissions to determine business district grant funding.
"Venture Portland's grants stimulate neighborhood economic development in real time," said Matthew Micetic, Venture Portland's vice president and Foster Area business association delegate. "The new Catalytic grants are a great addition that will help districts to improve stability and increase membership, business benefits and revenue."
The Benchmark Grant awards focus on tactical achievements across eight strategic areas to build strong, vibrant, financially stable business districts. Midway in North Portland and the Foster area's projects both are professional photography for the web and increased social media presence to highlight the districts and their events.
The Brooklyn area has a membership campaign to rebrand and strengthen the district's business.
Hawthorne is promoting a "Winter Nights, Festive Lights" shop local event for holiday shopping, Nov. 24 - Jan. 5.
Northeast Broadway is planning a Spring Fling Health and Wellness event and passport in April.
Nob Hill has a rebranding campaign to strengthen identity.
Parkrose has a membership campaign. St. John's and the Williams District want new banners to identify the districts as retail and service destinations, and Woodstock has plans for art installation trash cans to reduce litter and enhance public spaces.
New this year are Catalytic Grant Awards, which aim to help business districts invest in ongoing, professional staff for the first time improve corporate governance.
The Beaumont area is planning a district staffing Kickstarter, along with Northeast Broadway, Nob Hill and Sellwood Moreland.
The Foster area is planning corporate infrastructure improvements, as are Old Town, the Soul District and the Williams District.
In FY 16-17 Venture Portland awarded $96,000 to fund 34 projects in 20 business districts, leveraging an additional $521,837 in private investment, a more than five-to-one match. Since 1995 Venture Portland has granted more than $1.4 million to fund 519 business district projects, leveraging more than $4.7 million in additional private investment in districts city wide.
By Jules Rogers
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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