Portland will launch a program Wednesday to provide one-time city utility assistance for selected small businesses owned by people of color and women.
The Small Business Program for Utility Relief (SPUR) is expected to help 200 to 300 small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It will provide between $1,000 and $10,000 in water and sewer relief credits for a total of $1 million.
The program is a partnership between the Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services, with guidance from Prosper Portland, the city economic development agency formerly known as the Portland Development Commission.
"The SPUR program invests in our beloved small businesses that embody the very character of our city, so they can recover and continue to serve the community," said Water Bureau Director Mike Stuhr. "By investing in small businesses today, the utilities are also helping to ensure that these ratepayers can continue to invest in our sewer, stormwater and water infrastructure for decades to come."
According to the city, applications will be prioritized using a racial equity and vulnerability lens. The utility bureaus will not evaluate them on a first-come, first-served basis, will prioritize businesses owned by Black, indigenous and all people of color (BIPOC) to direct dollars to traditionally underserved businesses.
A selection committee is made up of representatives from the following: Council for Economic and Racial Equity; Portland Utility Board; Oregon Native American Chamber; Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon; Black American Chamber; Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Oregon; Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce; Bureau of Environmental Services; and Commissioner Amanda Fritz's office.
Small businesses are invited to apply beginning Wednesday, July 8, through July 22 at the website.
Applications are available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Russian. Interpreters are available for those who would like support in other languages. Call 503-823-7770 to request an interpreter.
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