Multnomah County partners with community organizations to get CARES Act business relief out quickly, equitably

December 10, 2020

(Multnomah County) – Multnomah County today announced partnerships with community-based organizations to distribute CARES Act business relief funds. The County’s goal is to distribute these funds to businesses in the most need, as quickly as possible, and to ensure all the funds allocated to Multnomah County are expended by the federal deadline.

“Our community has sacrificed so much to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. “And many businesses are hanging on by a thread. These resources will help, but they are in no way enough. We need Congress to step up and pass more relief for individuals and businesses.”

On Nov. 17, Gov. Kate Brown announced that the state of Oregon would pass through $55 million of remaining CARES Act funding to counties for business relief. Based on the allocation formula, Multnomah County received $7.6 million of this funding. The State indicated that counties should prioritize those businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including, but not limited to, the hospitality industry, small businesses, and Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and women-owned businesses. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for state and local governments must be spent by Dec. 30, 2020

Multnomah County is dedicating $5.3 million of these relief funds to businesses licensed by Multnomah County, including restaurants, food carts, bed and breakfasts, benevolent associations, caterers, and limited service restaurants (prepackaged only). Owners of these businesses who have five or fewer licenses in Multnomah County are eligible to apply for $500 per license for food carts, and $1,500 per license for restaurants or other license types. Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Dec. 15, 2020. 

The remaining $2.7 million will be allocated to other small businesses that have also been financially impacted, with a priority given to those in East County that were prohibited from operating or experienced a decline in sales of 25% or more due to public health restrictions. 

These funds will be distributed to the Portland Business Alliance Charitable Institute, the Black American Chamber of Commerce, the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, and the Native American Youth and Family Center. 

District 4 Commissioner Lori Stegmann, who represents East County, said: “East Multnomah County has been hit hard by the pandemic. Before COVID-19, we already faced more challenges than other parts of the county. That’s why the swift collaboration between Multnomah County, East County cities and the Portland Business Alliance has been crucial.”

Said District 3 Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, “This crisis is exactly why we have a federal government. We know these funds are insufficient, and Congress needs to step up with additional support for small businesses and workers to alleviate the hardships COVID has brought on.”

Susheela Jayapal, District 2 Commissioner, said that  “COVID has deeply impacted our restaurant and service industry.  Many owners, especially of the family-run restaurants and food carts, are from communities of color who are hit hardest by the virus.  These grants are nowhere near sufficient to meet the immense need out there, but will hopefully ease the financial strain a little.  It is urgent that the federal government provide local jurisdictions with additional resources.  We greatly appreciate the community partners who are helping us get these funds out as quickly as possible.”

"Few businesses have been spared by the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic’, but our service industry has been hit particularly hard,’’ said District 1 Commissioner Sharon Meieran. “Multnomah County's iconic restaurants, family-owned food carts and other small businesses have adapted in remarkable ways to stay afloat, keep their workers employed, and feed our community – I'm happy we can offer this modest relief to some businesses."