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Twelve Lake Oswego nonprofits receive funds early to help during COVID-19 outbreak

PMG FILE PHOTO  - Hunger Fighters Oregon was one nonprofit organization out of 12 that received Municipal Grants. Times are dire right now. And they seem to look more bleak by the second as orders and concerns amid the global health crisis continue to ramp up.

But during a Lake Oswego City Council special meeting March 30 — which was held remotely — the council helped spread light throughout the community.

The council awarded $50,000 in Municipal Grant funds — the amount was initially $45,000 but the Council decided to award Hunger Fighters Oregon an additional $5,000, making the organization's total $10,000, during a recent meeting — to 12 local nonprofit organizations, including Clackamas Women's Services, Family Promise of Tualatin Valley, Community Warehouse and Tools for Troops, early.

The Municipal Grant program has been in existence for about 14 years and grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations and governmental entities that are seeking funding for special projects, services or cultural grants.

"Given the funding for the municipal grants for fiscal year 2020-21 has already been approved as part of the Bn2019-21 budget and the grants are going to local non-profits supporting Lake Oswego citizens, staff thought it might be prudent to authorize these grants now instead of waiting until July 2020," read the City's staff report. "Many of these organizations could use this funding now in order to help the populations they serve in this time of need."

The City Council also awards Tourism Grants that support any project or event that promotes tourism and draws people into the city.

Funding for the grants comes from the local 6% transient lodging tax, 1.4% of which is required to be used for tourism promotion — think advertising, strategic planning and marketing events — or facilities.

But due to the COVID-19 outbreak, City Manager Martha Bennett said the tourism sector is taking a large revenue hit since people are required to self-isolate and stay home.

"So we'll be talking with all of you (about) whether you want to proceed with grants with money we don't have," Bennett said.

More good news to come

The City also announced Monday that it's working on a business assistance program and expanding the rapid response team to work on economic development issues in partnership with the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce.

This would most likely be a grant program that would assist local small businesses during this financially difficult time. Grants would be awarded to as many eligible businesses as possible. The City and the chamber are also looking at other ways to help business owners support one another. More information will be addressed during the Thursday, April 2, special meeting that people can stream on the City Council's YouTube channel.

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