North Clackamas Chamber distributes $850,000 in grants
The North Clackamas and Sandy Chambers of Commerce recently announced they have completed their first allocation of Small Business Recovery Grants.
This program was for qualified businesses who had experienced losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of the grants was to mitigate financial hardship. Funds allocated were out of the U.S. Treasury's State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF) as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Janice Kiser, owner of Venvino Art Studios in Happy Valley, said she was thrilled when she learned she'd been selected as a recipient of the APRA SLFRF funds.
"(The last few years) have been very challenging," Kiser said. "The hardest part about the last few years is having to continuously pivot every couple of months."
"I'm very excited. I wasn't expecting it," she continued. "Hopefully, what I think we're going to end of doing with this grant is expanding our art lesson business by offering a digital art class, which is something we haven't been able to do because you have to buy all the equipment."
Just down Sunnyside across from Kaiser Hospital, Susie Sisk and Jamie Sloan, business partners at Cup of Tea, said tenacity has been the key to keeping their restaurant open during the challenges of the past few years.
"Given the fact that we were a brand-new business, any sort of grant money, support from the government, we didn't qualify for," Sisk said. "This gives us just a little moment to breathe as we go into the holiday season, we can pay off some bills and stock up and just keep going -- it's a nice buffer. It's a really amazing gift to be granted."
"The Chamber of Commerce has been nothing but a support to us and rallying for us this whole entire time," she continued. "And anybody who has a small business in this community the Chamber will back you and support you, it's just a truly phenomenal program."
Just across the street, Ocean Paradise Dive and Travel owner Larry Reinhardt had been open for nearly five years when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Reinhardt sells and services dive gear and runs trips all across the world through his Clackamas location.
"We were doing awesome before COVID hit, once COVID came around everything just kind of fell off," Reinhardt said. "We started to pick up a little bit, then we started having problems with supply chains … it's been tough with supply chains and manufacturers getting anything done in the last two years.
"This means the world to me. It's going to help me stay open, hopefully bring in some more product that is slowly showing up," he continued. "It's going to help me pay rent and pay bills and stay open for sure!"
Both chambers said they were proud of the opportunity to help support small businesses throughout the region and hope that this money will help those recipients with their ongoing recovery efforts.
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