Following the $500,000 allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funding from Rep. Rachel Prusak, D-West Linn, in 2021, the Lake Oswego Area and West Linn Business Recovery Center — run by the local chambers of commerce — has received the money and is now using it to provide support to local businesses. The program won't give money to businesses directly, but instead funds initiatives designed to help local establishments thrive.
The recovery center is led by LaQuita Corbett, who owned the now-closed Chocolates by Bernard shop, and Shatrine Krake, executive director of the West Linn Chamber of Commerce. Both have worked with local businesses throughout the pandemic.
Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Liz Hartman said they will key in on providing support for the kinds of businesses that have not fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, including dry cleaners and laundry suppliers, personal care services, fitness and recreational sports centers, restaurants and other eateries and artists and performers.
"They had the toughest time recovering over the past two years," Hartman said. "In LO we lost four-to-five dry cleaners over the last two years … We heard a lot from the fitness community that a lot of places aren't back to where they were a couple years ago in terms of memberships and class enrollment."
Other assistance includes helping businesses with advertising, marketing and social media as well as producing newsletters and connecting with local neighborhoods.
"Our reps have found over the last year (that) the smaller the business, the less social media-savvy they are. The more we can connect them and teach them and show them how to use social media (the better)," Hartman said.
Further, Hartman said there would be efforts to help local residents find jobs in town, as a high percentage of people who work in Lake Oswego live outside of the community.
"To raise awareness we're working with high schools, through counseling, to make sure they know job opportunities to know what's around locally," Hartman said.
They are also continuing a restaurant passport initiative to encourage locals to frequent businesses and will jumpstart a promotion for women-owned businesses as well. Hartman added that more details will be ironed out in the coming months.
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