Multnomah County has a longstanding commitment to supporting diversity within our local construction workforce and provide small business development. In 2018, the Board of County Commissioners approved the creation of the Construction Diversity Equity Fund (CDEF), a dedicated funding stream to support three specific initiatives:

  • Support for pre-apprenticeship programs 
  • Workforce support services and retention programs
  • Technical assistance, mentoring, and training for certified firms 

Pre-apprenticeship programs approved by the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) will receive funding to support groups that have long been underrepresented in the building trades such as women, formerly incarcerated folks, and people of color. 

Additionally, BOLI registered apprentices can receive direct support through Multnomah County’s service provider, Akana, to help with unexpected expenses. Examples of direct support services include travel and lodging expenses, child care assistance, tools and personal protective equipment. Providing this type of additional support to apprentices will aid in their retention and graduation rates to journey level certification, increasing pay and opportunities. Akana support services are handled diligently by Penny Painter at

Businesses certified as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Women Business Enterprise (WBE), Veteran Business Enterprise (VBE), or Emerging Small Business (ESB) through the Oregon Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity (COBID) can access technical assistance through CDEF. Certified businesses are partnered with a Multnomah County service provider to receive free technical assistance in areas such as:

  • Business Operations
  • Basic Project Management
  • Compliance Documentation Training
  • Computer Training
  • Financial Training 
  • Marketing Training
  • Networking and Mentoring etc.

COBID Certified Firms may request assistance by completing the Construction Diversity and Equity Fund (CDEF) Technical Assistance Request Form at the bottom of this webpage.

Please direct any questions to