$100,000 going to startup firms through partnership with Clackamas Federal Credit Union, Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon.

A new pilot program in Oregon City aims to boost the local economy and provide much-needed long-term capital to startup firms.James Graham

Oregon City's new Entrepreneurial Opportunity Loan Program will lend a total of $100,000 this year to business owners who have been in operation for three or fewer years. Applicants may receive loans up to $20,000 to fund their growing companies.

This unique public-private partnership is bringing together city officials, Clackamas Federal Credit Union and Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon.

"This is a critical time to launch this initiative as individuals seek to control their own destinies by establishing their own private enterprise and be more resilient due to their experiences with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Oregon City Economic Development Manager James Graham.

To participate, a business must be in Oregon City, have a business plan and provide a personal guarantee. Borrowers selected to participate will not have to make principal or interest payment for the first 12 months.

During the first year, interest will accrue at a rate of 0.5%, and after 12 months the interest will be adjusted to 3 percentage points above prime. Borrowers will have up to five years to repay the loan.

"The Entrepreneurial Opportunity Loan Program fits very well with the mission of the Clackamas Federal Credit Union," said Katie Gillespie, the credit union's director of business services. "We are happy to partner with the city of Oregon City to launch this pilot program and support business owners in our community."

Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon Executive Director Cobi Lewis said MESO's mission is to elevate and empower historically excluded and under-resourced entrepreneurs with tailored assistance and flexible capital to build family wealth through small business ownership.

"Access to equitable capital is critical to the success of start-up businesses, which is why MESO is excited to be a part of this project," Lewis said. "Our contribution involves providing technical business development assistance to companies interested in the program, including business planning, market research, and help with the loan application itself."

On Aug. 1, more information about the program will be on Oregon City's new Economic Development website, Eligible applicants are invited to apply online between Aug. 15 and Sept. 30. You may also pick up an application at City Hall, 625 Center St.

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