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Chambers of commerce providing resources to alleviate the impacts of COVID-19

Commissioners have unanimously approved extending federal funding for Clackamas County's six Business Recovery Centers (BRCs) through Sept. 30.

Approval came through a 5-0 vote at a June 22 policy meeting. Clackamas County Finance Director Elizabeth Comfort and Nancy Bush, the county's emergency manager, requested $150,000 in federal funding to be divided among the six BRCs respective to need.

Launched in December, BRCs provide area businesses with a "one-stop shop" for recovery resources to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. Resources include individualized consulting, educational resources, assistance in connecting to financial resources and more. PHOTO COURTESY: TRIESTE ANDREWS - Sam Munger (from left), Victoria Meinig and Kevin Guillen work in the Oregon City Chamber of Commerce's newly created Business Recovery Center., Clackamas Review - Opinion Newly-funded program by the CARES Act; Clackamas County has six sites to address struggling economy. Oregon City Chamber launches Business Recovery Center

Funding for BRCs comes through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and was scheduled to expire June 30. Clackamas County's approval extends funding for three subsequent months, after which businesses will no longer have access to BRC resources. Board of County Commissioners Chair Tootie Smith said no more funding will be allocated to BRCs following Sept. 30.

"We need to be able to have a date certain when the money ends, and it does not keep coming in," Smith said.

BRCs are staffed by a combination of public health employees and temporary staff members. Public health employees will return to their normal jobs after the funding period ends, however, temporary staff will be laid off.

"It was made clear to them that this was a temporary position available with certain dollars, and the dollars will be ending," Smith said.

Reached for comment regarding the number of workers currently employed by BRCs and the expected number of layoffs, Clackamas County public information officer Kimberly Dinwiddie said she cannot speak to this information because BRCs are run independently of the county by seven area Chambers of Commerce.

These chambers include Canby, Lake Oswego/West Linn, North Clackamas, Oregon City, Sandy and Wilsonville.

Also during the recent meeting, commissioners approved $3 million in federal funding for public health, behavioral health and emergency operations centers.

The funding will come from the American Rescue Plan Act and will be split into two installments of $1.5 million through 2022. Bush said "the need for that money will hopefully go away" by the end of the funding period.


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