The City Club of Portland is laying off its staff because of declining revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It is with heavy hearts that we write to share with you that the Board of Governors has had to make painful decisions for the long-term viability of the organization," the 100-year-old civic organization wrote to its members on Monday, May 11.
According to the letter, "the Board of Governors determined that reducing our personnel expenses by 90% starting in June was the only way for City Club to stay solvent and continue delivering on its mission."
The letter said the organization will offer a scaled back election-related program into the fall and will continue working to reform Portland's form of government, one of its signature issues. No specific activities were announced, however.
The staff being laid off include the executive director, program strategist and the marketing and communications director. They are the only employees currently listed in the organization's website.
The letter reveals that the City Club has been struggling financially for months. It already had replaced its traditional large Friday Forum luncheons with online events featuring remote guests. The organization also had received a forgivable federal loan under the Paycheck Protection Act, which funded payroll and benefits over the past month, even as revenues sharply declined this spring.
Before Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued her stay-at-home order, the organization already had drawn on a line of credit to cover core expenses and had planned for a robust season of election events and a successful gala to sustain the organization into the next year, the letter said.
But over the last two months, it became clear the events would not raise the expected revenue. After Brown announced last week that gatherings of over 25 people are likely to be prohibited at least through September, the board decided that it needed to make "significant adjustments to the organization's operations to account for these changes."
The letter said the board would reach out to members and community partners in coming months to determine how the organization continues after the crisis ends. It was signed by President-Elect Julie Davis, President Juan Martinez and Immediate Past President Colin Jones.
You can learn more about the City Club at www.pdxcityclub.org.
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