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Funds will assist underserved, underrepresented small businesses and nonprofit organizations

The city of Lake Oswego has plans for extending a helping hand to small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

The Lake Oswego City Council accepted a $35,000 forgivable loan through Business Oregon during the June 23 City Council meeting, which would essentially extend the Business Assistance Grant Program the city rolled out during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The council unanimously voted to direct City Manager Martha Bennett to sign the loan agreement with Business Oregon.

"The Oregon Legislature, in partnership with Governor Brown, allocated $5 Million from the State General Fund, which will be combined with $5 Million redirected from existing programs at the Oregon Business Development Department (Business Oregon), for the purpose of providing financial assistance to small businesses adversely affected by economic conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic," the city staff report reads. "The state funds are intended to fill gaps left by other programs and are directed to adversely affected businesses with 25 or fewer employees, specifically those that have been unable to receive federal CARES Act funding, such as the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance program, or other federal programs for emergency pandemic funding to date."

Planning and Building Services Director Scot Siegel said there are no other expenditures required by the city because the city has already met the match through its prior Business Assistance Grant program — the forgivable loan is part of a matching grant program, he said.

Siegel said some of the differences between the city's past Business Assistance Grant Program and the Business Oregon loan are that the latter has certain requirements like marketing and promotion that weren't part of the city's original grant program, and it's expanded to include nonprofit organizations.

The marketing focus is used to reach local businesses that are owned by historically underrepresented or disadvantaged populations.The goal for marketing and promotion is also to make business owners aware of the program and give an opportunity for them to ask questions before it officially launches.

Siegel said the city is working with neighboring areas like Oregon City, Gladstone and Happy Valley to exchange information and work with Business Oregon to develop a database to reach the people these funds are intended for.

"The approach is to reach out and contact organizations individually, make the information about the grant program known well in advance of it being released, and then have the information about how to apply online even before the program opens," Siegel said.

Grant funds would be available in different amounts based on the size of the business.

Siegel said the only caveat is that grants would not be available to businesses and nonprofits that have received other city assistance like the Municipal Grants, which were recently awarded.

Siegel said one proposal is to make the grants available up to $5,000 per business to reach more businesses.

Mayor Kent Studebaker asked when applications would be accepted.

Siegel said according to the loan schedule, they would market and promote the program during the first and the second weeks of July, with applications opening up July 20. The grants would be awarded shortly after.

Councilor John LaMotte asked whether businesses that received $2,500 from the Business Assistance Grant Program, but received no federal funding, would qualify for these funds.

Siegel said as the program is currently structured, they would be eligible.

Click here for more information about the program and additional information about eligibility requirements.


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